THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
A TYPICAL GORGE IN THE SARHAD.
THE RAIDERS OF
BEING THE ACCOUNT OF A CAMPAIGN
OF ARMS AND BLUFF AGAINST THE
BRIGANDS OF THE PERSIAN-BALUCHI
BORDER DURING THE GREAT WAR
BRIGADIER-GENERAL R. E. H. DYER, C.B.
WITH NUMEROUS PHOTOGRAPHS AND TWO MAPS
H. F. & G. WITHERBY
326 HIGH HOLBORN, W.C.
WITH the greatest diffidence I have at last made
up my mind to write the story of my small campaign
with the Sarhad Raiders in 1916.
This campaign sinks into utter insignificance when
compared with the great deeds done in other theatres
of war by men who said nothing about them. But,
insignificant as it was, it forms part of the mosaic
of the Great War, and for this reason may be of some
I take this opportunity of paying a tribute to all
the officers who took part in this little campaign.
Their untiring devotion to duty, and their efforts to
do their utmost under conditions that were often
more than trying, accounts for its success.
I would like, in particular, to mention Major
Landon of the 35th Scinde Horse, whose great
knowledge of the people and their country was
invaluable; Major Sanders of the 36th Sikhs;
Colonel Claridge of the 28th Light Cavalry;
Captain Brownlow and Captain Hirst, both of the
28th Light Cavalry; Major Lang; Captain Moore-
Lane; Lieutenant Bream of the Hazara Pioneers,
and Captain English, R.A.
In addition I would mention how much, not only
I, but the old country owes to Khan Bahadur, the
Sarhad-dar, and to Idu, non-commissioned officer
of the Chagai Levies.
The photographs are from snapshots taken by
various officers during the campaign.
ORDERS FOR THE WEST
I receive my orders German agents and India Their
routes A deal in chauffeurs Concerning an appetite
and sausages Nushliki The last of civilisation
Further information Sand-holes and digging Petrol
in the desert 15
THE ROAD TO ROBAT
Mushki-chah The native contractor An evening ren-
contre Idu of the Chagai Levies The native idea of
an airship Idu the invaluable Robat .... 30
A PLAN OF CAMPAIGN
An " intelligent " officer Matters political Three tribes^
and a fourth Their women and inter-tribal laws
Sarhad conditions A summons to the Chiefs A bid
for rank Telegraph wires and Sheitan Two first-
class liars A strategic scheme An ungazetted
General Lost kit Swallows and flies Forces avail-
able Communications freed The Kacha levy and a
shock Mirjawa . . . . . . . -37
BLUFF AND ARMS
Ladis and its fort A force without arms First sight of
the enemy Shah S.awar and more bluff Battle
Bluff succeeds Casualties Bad news from the North
x Idu's proposition Jiand's stragglers Jiand's white
^\ flag .... 55
KHWASH AND MORE BLUFF
Jiand's surrender A political lecture Jiand's oath Bluff J^
for Khwash The army moves forward Khwash and
its fort Mahommed-Hassan comes in Beetles as
scavengers Halil Khan comes in Rifle prices, a
comparison Idu's warning News of Izzat Order of
march Bluff for Bampur The meteor hole 6g
A FULL BAG OF PRISONERS
The march to Kacha The food supply Flowers in the
Wilderness Galugan Repeated strategy Juma Khan i"' 1 '.
comes in The bag is full The throne of the dancing
maidens Landon declines Idu's doubts Suspicions
aroused Halil Khan closes up Kacha, oaths, and
thumb-marks The Chiefs depart Bad news . . 87
THE RACE FOR KHWASH
Plans and routes Car versus legs An equestrian inter-
lude The trap in the gorge More digging Rendez-
vous Mrs Idu and gastronomy A reinforcement A
message to Landon Izzat's men Idu's romance A
" British Bulldog "The car abandoned . . 103
KHWASH AND THE SECOND SURRENDER
Doubts dispelled Organisation for defence Idu's
" Exiat " And its result Jiand arrives Idu's second
visit The Sarhad-dar arrives Landon at last Jiand' s
visit of ceremony The Gul-Bibi Shah Sawar's
treachery We call on the " Rose Lady " A carpet
and the Sarhad-dar's advice Another Durbar
Returned loot Temporary peace 122
TREACHERY AND ITS SEQUEL
Further reinforcements Entrenchments and gardens
Government inquiries Food supplies An offer to
Jiand Murad and straw Shah Sawar again Sen-
tence Idu's suggestion Re-enter the Rose Lady
News of Jiand' s intentions A vital moment A round-
up The Sarhad-dar 's advice A Bhusa hunt
Distrustful wives 143
FAILURE AND FRESH PLANS
Slave buying A diet discovery Poetic justice Disposi-
tion of prisoners Incredible news The Sawar's story
Disposal of forces The march to Kamalabad Jiand
gains his freedom Retreat to Khwash . . . .165
SUCCESS IN MINIATURE
The night attack The Hazaras arrive Jiand retires We
march on the Sar-i-drokan valley Cavalry strategy
" Gushti's " decision and opinion " The Hole of
Judgment " Attack and retirement A lost and
regained water-supply The Sarhadis as humorists
The mud fort Halil Khan's arrival The fight at
dawn Exit Halil Khan A prophet The Hazaras'
VICTORY AND PEACE
News of the herds Towards Dast-Kird Water ! Mutton
for all Dast-Kird A stampede Back to Khwash
On the track of the Gamshadzais Twice a prophet
The Sharhad-dar's roost Before Jalk Rejected terms
More strategy and a bloodless victory Remain only
terms and sick leave . 201
INDEX ......, 221
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A TYPICAL GORGE IN THE SARHAD Frontispiece
IN DIFFICULTIES BETWEEN NASARATABAD AND
ROBAT Facing 25
" A GOOD LIAR," LANDON'S ORDERLY AND
CHIEF SPY 49
QUESTIONING A SARHAD1 PRISONER . 59
JIAND'S MEN COMING IN TO PARLEY . . 71
KHWASH FORT 75
SURRENDERED RAIDERS, (CENTRE) JIAND,
(RIGHT) SHAH SAWAR, (LEFT) HALIL KHAN 89
CAMEL CORPS SAWARS AT THE TERMINATION
OF AN EXPEDITION 97
THE DURBAR AT KHWASH . 141
RAIDER CHIEFS AT THE DURBAR AT KHWASH 141
RAIDED SLAVES ON THE WAY TO THEIR HOMES 167
A PERSIAN GIRL CAPTURED BY JUMA KHAN . 167
CAPTURED RAIDERS ON THE WAY TO KACHA 173
12 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
ON THE MARCH TOWARDS GUSHT, AND THE
MORPEISH HILLS .... Facing 185
HAZARAS ON A PICKET POST BELOW WHICH
HALIL KHAN WAS KILLED . . . 197
WATER J ON THE MARCH TO THE SAR-I-
DROKAN tf 203
HAZARA PIONEERS WIDENING A PASSAGE FOR
LOADED CAMELS f> 215
CHAHGIRD FORT IN JALK .... 217
SKETCH MAP OF THE PERSIAN BALUCHI-
AFGHAN FRONTIERS .... Facing 15
SKETCH MAP OF THE FIGHT IN THE MORPEISH
HILLS . . ' . l8l
THE RAIDERS OF THE
ORDERS FOR THE WEST
I receive my orders German agents and India Their routes
A deal in chauffeurs Concerning an appetite and sausages
Nushliki The last of civilisation Further information
Sand-holes and digging Petrol in the desert.
TOWARDS the end of February, 1916, General
Kirkpatrick, Chief of Staff at Delhi, sent for me and
gave me orders to take charge of the military
operations in South-East Persia.
Although Persia, as a country, was neutral during
the War, there is a certain district in the South-East,
abutting on to the frontiers of Afghanistan and of
Baluchistan, and known as the Sarhad, which is ft
occupied by a number of nomad tribes who claim/
absolute independence. At this time these tribes
were causing considerable embarrassment and
difficulty to the Indian Government.
The Germans and their agents, who were past
masters in the art of propaganda, were still
endeavouring, as they had done for years before the
16 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
outbreak of hostilities, to work upon the discontented
portion of the Indian population in the hope of
rousing them into open rebellion. They believed
this to be quite possible, in spite of the magnificent
way in which India had offered her resources of men
and money to the British Raj, and hoped thereby to
handicap us still further in our great struggle in the
They were pouring their agents, with their lying
propaganda, into India via Persia and Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, like Persia, was nominally neutral, but
she was breaking her neutrality by many open acts
of aggression, and was offering every facility in her
power to the German agents in their passage through
her territories, and thence into the Punjab.
To reach Afghanistan, however, the German
agents had to pass through some part of Persia.
The Persian Government placed no restrictions on
the movements of either British or Germans, of
which fact the latter took full advantage.
A glance at the map will show that apparently the
easiest route for them to take across Persia was in
the North, in the Russian sphere of influence, and
to approach Afghanistan through Korasan ; or,
failing this, by a route rather farther South, across
the Lut Desert, in the direction of Birjand. As a
matter of fact they had tried both these routes, but
without much success, owing to the inhospitable
nature of the country through which they had to
pass and also to the opposition they met with from
ORDERS FOR THE WEST 17
the Hazara tribes round Herat, who, belonging as
they do to the Shiah section of the Mahommedan
religion, are at daggers drawn with the Afghans,
who belong to the Sunni section.
Therefore the Germans had to try yet another
road, and succeeded farther South where they had
failed in the North. By taking the longer route
through Kerman and Narmashir in the South and
South-East of Persia, they found easy ingress into
To effect this, however, they had to make friends
with the nomad and war-like tribes of the Sarhad.
These tribes were traditionally friendly to the British,
but the Germans had bribed them heavily and had
moreover assured them that Germany had turned
Islam and that the Kaiser William himself was a
convert to their religion. As the Sarhad tribes were
always out for a good thing for themselves, and as
they believed the lie about the German conversion,
they had allowed themselves to be tricked into help-
ing the Germans. This they were doing not only
by permitting them to pass through their territory,
but also by harassing the lines of communication
between the inadequately small British frontier posts.
The story of Germany having turned Mahom-
medan, farcical as it was, was nevertheless a potential
source of grave danger for us in India. It must be
remembered that Germany's ally, Turkey, was
Mahommedan, and that in helping us against
Germany, the Mahommedans of India were already
18 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
being called upon, indirectly, to fight against their
own co-religionists. When, in addition, India was
assured that powerful Germany was winning, so her
agents avowed, in every theatre of war, it was
inevitable that in time her loyalty to us must suffer.
It was vital to stop this lying but insidious
propaganda, and the first step was to prevent German
agents from entering India at all. To do this the
nomad tribes of the Sarhad must be brought back
into line with their old policy of friendship with
Britain. Hence my orders from General Kirkpatrick.
He instructed me to proceed without a moment's
unnecessary delay to Quetta, where I was to receive
more detailed instructions.
On leaving him I hurried, with car and native
chauffeur, to the railway station, and asked for a
truck on which to place the car for entrainment to
Nushki. The station-master assured me I was
asking for an impossibility. A great Maharajah,
then travelling, had commandeered every available
truck for his suite, luggage and cars. I told him
that the Government business on which I had been
sent was all important, and, by a little persuasion,
soon had myself on the way to Pindi and the car on
the way to Nushki.
Arrived at Pindi I found I had exactly one hour
left in which to catch the train for Quetta. There
was no time to pack, sort out kit, or decide what
should, or should not, be taken on a campaign which
might last only a few weeks or many months, and
ORDERS FOR THE WEST 19
which might assume a political aspect sooner than
expected. My servant, Allah-dad, was therefore
directed to take everything for sorting out when time
could be spared, and I rushed off to try and " do
a deal " with General Sir Gerald Kitson, before
I realised that a motor-car might play an important
part in this prospective campaign, as it would be
necessary to travel for long distances in a land of no
railways and no regular roads, the best road to be
hoped for probably being a sandy track used by
camel caravans. I had already had some experience
of difficult motoring with an inefficient chauffeur, so
naturally wanted to secure the best man that could
I must here explain that I possessed an English
chauffeur, Allan by name, and that General Kitson
employed his brother in the same capacity. Now,
without any disparagement of my Allan, I knew his
brother to be a more practical and experienced man.
General Kitson generously gave his consent to an
exchange of chauffeurs.
I may as well say, at once, that it was a lucky day
for me that saw Allan of the 9th Middlesex Regiment
enter my service, for, during the months to come, he
was as cheery and full of resource as he was ready
for any event, however untoward. His appetite
stood forth as the only thing that ever caused me
uneasiness, and I must admit that I have never met
a man with one of such colossal proportion. As an
20 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
instance on one occasion, when camped out in the
desert, between Nushki and Robat, and supplies
were none too plentiful, we cooked twelve sausages
I had one, and then was persuaded by Allan to
attempt a second. I only succeeded in disposing of
half of it. I then got up and left Allan to have his
own breakfast. Allah-dad, being a Mahommedan,
of course refused to touch sausage.
At lunch-time Allah-dad asked what I would
have to eat, and got the answer, " Oh, some of the
cold sausages left from breakfast."
Allah-dad replied, " But there are no sausages,
Sahib. Allan has eaten them all."
I expostulated, maintaining that it was impossible.
No normal man could have eaten ten and a half
large sausages. But Allah-dad was not to be shaken.
It may be well imagined that the feeding of my
chauffeur during the months to come loomed up as
one of my minor anxieties.
From Pindi I went to Quetta by train, my car,
with the native chauffeur having gone direct to the
then rail-head at Nushki, in the North of Indo-
At Quetta I laid in a store of petrol, spare tyres, a
few personal necessities, reported to General Grover
for orders and information, and then proceeded to
Nushki; which place was reached, and the car
picked up, on, if I remember rightly, the 25th of
ORDERS FOR THE WEST 21
This day in Nushki was to prove the last in a
civilised town for many months to come. The look
of the country lying before us so intimidated my
native chauffeur that he came to me, a short time
before we were due to start, with a countenance torn
with grief and, with lamentations and protestations of
sorrow, told me that both his father and mother were
ill, and that it was vital for him to return and succour
them. As I had been in two minds as to the
advisability of taking the rascal with me, this sign of
the white feather at the very outset at once decided
the point, and I gave him to understand that he
could go and bury as many of his relations as he
pleased. With a countenance swiftly transformed
to cheerfulness he left me.
Just before starting a wire was handed in from a
high political official at Quetta informing me that
the Baluch Raiders had already cut our lines of
communication, were right across my path, and he
advised, if not ordered, me not to proceed.
However, as explicit military instructions were to
endeavour to reach Robat (near the Koh-i-Maliksia),
a hill at which the Baluch, Afghan and Persian
frontiers meet, as well as that of the district known
as the Sarhad, with the least possible delay, and as I
knew the Raiders were across my path even before I
left Quetta, I saw no reason for altering previously
made plans or for delaying my departure.
Accordingly I started on the journey to Robat
early on the morning of the 27th. I reckoned it
22 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
would take at least five days to reach that town, as
the route it would be necessary to follow would be
fully three hundred and seventy-five miles. I
already knew that it would be essential to make
many long detours round freshly formed sand
dunes and other obstacles, for it must be remembered
that there was no proper road but only a rough
camel-track continually blown over and obliterated
by sand, along which supplies were taken from India
to Robat, and the small garrison posts which we had
established at various points Northward.
The mention of small garrison posts may lead the
reader to suppose that this area of wild activity was
fairly well policed, but, as a fact, one battalion of
Indian infantry, a regiment of Indian cavalry and, I
believe, four mountain guns, constituted the entire
force of regulars holding a front of close upon three
hundred miles. It was small wonder, then, that the
Sarhad tribes, commonly known as Raiders, from
their raiding proclivities, who knew every inch of
the country, could climb like cats, and could do long
marches on short rations, had succeeded in cutting
our lines of communication, and in carrying off our
I could, therefore, look for no further help for the
time in the matter of supplies and so took with me
all that I thought would be necessary for our three
hundred and seventy-five mile trek across the sandy
wastes lying between Nushki and Robat.
Petrol was, at the moment, the most important of
ORDERS FOR THE WEST 28
our needs ; we had, therefore, to carry with us all we
should require, making allowance at the same time
for mishaps. Moreover, we had to take enough
food and water to last Allan, Allah-dad and myself
for five or six days.
As regards personal luggage we travelled
absolutely light, leaving all kit to follow at a slower
pace on camels, together with my horse, Galahad. I
had some compunction in leaving the latter behind,
but my orders were concise and urgent to reach
Robat, endeavour to get into touch with all our
scattered posts, and effect a combination against the
Raiders at the earliest possible moment.
A start was made very early in the morning,
but the first day's journey proved disappointing.
Instead of doing the ninety miles planned, we only
accomplished thirty. The track was even worse
than I had expected, for we constantly ran into sand-
hills, and had to dig the car out. I have never done
so much digging in my life as I did on that journey
to Robat. Sand-hills were, however, only a portion
of our afflictions, for, in addition, there were many
water pools and small shallow lakes due to recent
rain which had to be taken at a rush, or somehow
So serious, at last, did our rate of progress become
that, as we approached what seemed to be the
hundredth of these wide, shallow pools, I lost
patience and ordered Allan to drive straight through.
He attempted to carry out the order, but about
24 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
half-way we sank up to the axle and stuck. No
power on earth would induce . the car to budge
another inch, and, though we all three got out into
the water, and lugged, pushed and dragged at the
wretched car, no impression could be made upon
So we remained till, at last, about two a.m., I
caught sight of a light on a small hill not very far
away in the west, and, on going over to it, found a
sort of recluse, or holy man, quietly cooking his
food. After the usual courtesies I asked him to
come and help me to pull my car out. He replied
that he was an old man and could not do much by
himself, but that a caravan of nomads, who had
arrived the evening before, were encamped close by.
So off I went again, flushed my " quarry," and, with
the help of large bribes, persuaded all the able-
bodied men to come back to the car. Fortunately
we carried a good strong rope as part of our kit, so
soon had the car out and running again.
Allan was never again ordered to drive through
water on that route.
On the second day our troubles recommenced,
for we had barely done a dozen miles than we stuck
in another sand-hill, and the laborious digging-out
process had to be done all over again. Fortunately,
the party who had got the car out of the lake the
night before were close behind, and for an obvious
reason. They had been given so many rupees for
their timely help that, knowing the difficulties lying
ORDERS FOR THE WEST 25
ahead, they had followed in the hope of further
largesse. They got it.
Once safely out again I made a tour of inspection
round the car, but only to find more trouble.
" Hullo, what on earth is this, Allan? She's
Allan smiled a superior smile. " I don't think so,
sir. My cars don't leak."
But a moment later his superiority turned to
consternation, and he was burying his head in the
bowels of the car.
After a moment's inspection he showed a face of
such utter dismay that it would have been comical
had not the situation been so serious.
" Great Scott, sir! I must have left the
petrol tap turned on, and the tank is nearly
Here, I'm afraid, my language was violent, and
it was some minutes before Allan was able to
ascertain exactly how much petrol we had left. His
calculations established the fact that we had lost
some fourteen gallons. This meant that we should
have to walk the greater part of the last two hundred
miles of our journey. A pleasant prospect in that
forbidding country. But orders were to go on, and
go on we did.
That day we made good time, and before evening
had done the ninety miles set as a day's march.
But, as we had lost so much ground the previous
day, I determined to go on as long as Allan could
26 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
stick at the driving wheel, and we went on to a post
I should explain that in this barren, townless,
roadless district there are occasional small rest-
houses, very modest types of Dak bungalows,
established by the Indian Government for the benefit
of travellers, or soldiers on their way to frontier duty.
They are quite bare except for a camp bed or two, a
tub, a table, a few chairs and a wash-hand basin,
with a chokidar, or keeper, in charge.
Such a rest-house we found at Yadgar, and being
not only very tired and dusty, but filthily dirty, as
the result of our struggles with the car, we pulled up
to try and get a superficial wash.
I jumped out and tried the door. It was locked,
and I banged loudly without getting any answer.
It would not do to lose an unnecessary minute, for
the many miles we should have to walk later on
loomed unpleasantly ahead, but I knew there were
pretty certain to be water and washing-basin behind
that door, and did not intend to leave them unused
if I could help it, chokidar or no chokidar. So,
I took a butting run with my shoulder, the door gave,
and I set out in search of the water tub.
An open door on my right showed me a small
room, absolutely empty, except for a row of tins
against the wall. Knowing that petrol was carried
in such tin drums I went and examined them. The
next moment Allan heard a shout that brought him
hastily inside, wondering whether I had gone mad,
ORDERS FOR THE WEST 27
had been bitten by a wild beast, or was being
" Look! " I cried, as he came running up to me.
" Look at those tins and tell me what's inside ! "
Allan seized hold of one of the drums, read what
was written on it, gave it a shake, and we could both
hear the blessed sound of lapping inside.
" It's petrol, sir," he whispered in an awed voice.
Petrol in the desert petrol where one would as
soon have expected to find a Bond Street jeweller!
At first we could neither of us believe it. Person-
ally I imagined we had both got temporary jim-jams,
but Allan, with his usual stolid, common sense,
opened one of the drums, tested the contents, and
pronounced it to be first-class petrol. There were
seven drums, each containing four gallons.
' This means we'll motor, not walk into Robat after
all, sir," said Allan, with a grin and sigh of relief.
The thought of those miles of desert nearly two
hundred of them which confronted us after the
mishap had been haunting us both like a nightmare.
At this moment the chokidar returned, in great
trepidation, fearing a dressing-down for being absent
from duty. But I was far too elated at the turn of
events to want to swear at anyone.
I asked him where the petrol had come from, and
whose it was. He shook his head, and said he had
no idea. It had always been there. It belonged to
no one, and no one had put it there, so far as he knew.
He had never seen a car there before ; in fact, he had
28 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
never seen a car anywhere before, and could not
understand how it was that men could travel on a
thing which was not alive, which was not like any
horse or camel he had ever seen.
This was all very good hearing, so I proceeded to
tell him that the petrol belonged to me, and, as he
quite cheerfully acquiesced, I gave him a receipt
which he could show to any Government officialin
case of needed absolution in the future. As we now
had means to finish our journey by car, I decided to
spend the night at the rest-house.
After a simple camp meal Allan, worn out with the
strenuous work of the past two days and night, was
quickly snoring in the deep sleep of exhaustion, so
I went for a stroll.
As I paced up and down I tried to draw up some
preliminary plan for the coming campaign. But such
occupation was somewhat futile, as, until I could
reach Robat, I had no knowledge at all as to the
strength and composition of the force that would be
at my disposal. But upon one thing I made up my
mind even at that early stage I would do my
utmost to show these Raiders, who were doing us so
much harm, that they could not do this with impunity.
The lesson once driven home, an endeavour should
be made to become friendly with them, to win them
back to our side, and, so to speak, appoint them as
.doorkeepers of the Baluchistan frontier; but door-
keepers with their rifles pointed at our enemies
instead of at ourselves.
ORDERS FOR THE WEST 29
In the midst of these meditations I found myself
stumbling with fatigue, so, with a last look at the
beauty of the night, I turned indoors, and in a few
minutes was sound asleep, and making up for the
" whiteness " of the night before.
THE ROAD TO ROBAT
Mushki-chah The native contractor An evening rencontre
Idu of the Chagai Levies The native idea of an airship Idu
the invaluable Robat.
ON the third day we made good progress, fate being
kind in helping us to avoid the sandy pitfalls which
had hitherto been our undoing, and, by nightfall, we
found ourselves approaching the post of Mushki-
Here we found the road blocked with a number of
camel caravans carrying Government food supplies
for our scattered posts along the frontier. These
posts were already in difficulties owing to the Raiders 5
interference with their commissariat.
As can be imagined there was a great deal of noise,
the native drivers gesticulating and talking in a way
which proved that something was afoot. I got out
of the car and asked who was in charge of the
caravan. A huge native contractor was pointed out
to me, and, summoning him to my side I asked him
what all the hubbub was about.
He was in a state of great agitation and told me
that he had received information from several reliable
sources that the whole of the countryside ahead of
THE ROAD TO ROBAT 81
them was in the hands of the Raiders, and that,
therefore, it was useless to go a step further.
I expostulated with the man, pointing out that, by
the terms of his contract, he must go on, and that if
he did not the soldiers for whom he was bringing
supplies would die of starvation.
But he was dogged. He knew too well the
methods of the Raiders with the men they captured.
" It's no use, Sahib," he said, respectfully but
firmly. " My men will not go on as they are unarmed,
and a single armed Raider is enough to hold up the
I knew the man was right, but persisted in my
efforts to persuade him to chance it, pointing out that
he might be lucky enough to elude the Raiders and
to win through.
" If the Government will give me a military escort
I will go, but not without," was his final word.
I had no authority to compel him to go on, so gave
up the struggle. But I realised more than ever
how imperative it was to endeavour to reach Robat
without a moment's unnecessary delay, and start
conclusions with the Raiders, whose menace was
growing more dangerous every day.
We were, therefore, on the road very early next
morning, for I hoped to make Saindak that night. I
had intended to go by Borgar, but now that I knew
for I had verified the contractor's statements, and
believed them to be correct that that place was in
the hands of the Raiders, I elected to go by an
82 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
alternative route, known as the Webb-Ware route,
which is practically out of use nowadays, hoping,
thereby, to avoid the enemy.
It was still dark when we set off on the most
strenuous part of our journey;" climbing, making
detours, digging the car out again and again till we
were all three worn out in body and temper. We
hardly halted that day, for the necessity for speed
was as fully realised by Allan as by myself.
When night fell we had not yet sighted Saindak,
but I knew we could not be very far off, and cursed
the coming of the night which made it impossible to
see where we were. I knew we had got off the camel
track somehow, for the ground was even more
bumpy than it had been, and was frequently inter-
sected by nullahs or rocky ravines, which made the
going positively dangerous. If the car were knocked
right out of action our difficulties would reach the
last stage of disaster.
At last, in despair, Allan stopped, saying it was
useless going on any further. We might overturn
the car at any moment and smash it as well as
ourselves. He submitted that the only sane thing
would be to camp just where we were and wait for
daylight, when we might regain the camel track.
I knew he was right, but said I would make one
final effort on foot to find the track, and directed him
to give me the hurricane lamp we carried on the car.
Stumbling and slipping over the broken ground
in the pitch darkness, the lamp barely lighting up
THE ROAD TO ROBAT 33
my immediate path, I had wandered some distance
from the car when I heard voices. Instantly I
thought of the Raiders who were over-running the
district. It would be too galling, too humiliating to
be captured by them before the campaign, on which
I was building such high hopes, had even begun.
Noiselessly I put out the lamp and listened in the
dense darkness. There was absolute silence for
some minutes, and I stood stock still. Then voices
sounded again, and I conjectured that there were not
more than two, or at the most three, speakers.
I thought rapidly, and finally decided that there
would not be many men in front of me. Had there
been anything approaching an encampment of the
Raiders in the neighbourhood, there would have
been lights, camp fires and considerable noise. The
voices I had heard probably belonged to men who
had seen the lights of the car, and had come to find
out what it was.
I turned swiftly and made my way back to the car,
where I had foolishly left my revolver. Recovering
my weapon I warned Allan in a whisper of the voices
I had heard, and told him to be ready to stand by.
Then I made my way back in the darkness, and when
I had regained the spot, called out loudly, in
Hindustani, " Who's there? "
Instantly a voice answered, " I am Idu of the
Chagai Levies, friendly to the British Government."
I then called out who I was, and, immediately,
three fully armed men came forward in the darkness.
34 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
I asked them what they were doing there, and the
voice that had answered me before replied that they
were all three members of the Chagai Levies, and
that they, and about fifty others, had come out to
" To fight me? " I exclaimed. " Whatever for? "
" Well, Sahib," returned the man who had said his
name was Idu, " we thought you were a German
airship." And he went on to explain that for a long
time he and his companions had been watching
powerful lights floating about in the sky, and as they
knew that Germans were the only people in the
world who had haivaiijihaz or airships, they were
convinced the lights they had seen belonged to one
of these. And when it had alighted on the hill in
front of them, the majority of his companions had
been so terrified that they had run away, and only
himself and his two comrades had had the bravery to
stay where they were and face the unknown danger.
Then it dawned on me what he was driving at.
The flashing electric lights of the car, lighting up the
distant, rising slopes of the desert, had appeared to
these men to come from the sky, and my harmless
motor-car the dreaded German airship. Cars, of
course, along this route were as great a novelty as
airships, and doubtless not one of the men in front of
me had ever seen one before.
I reassured them as completely as I could, adding
that I was delighted to meet such redoubtable
warriors, and hoped that now they would come with
THE ROAD TO ROBAT 85
me and help me, as my business was to fight
Germans, airships and all. This was strictly true,
for, but for German influence, there would have been
no need to wage war on the Raiders who had only
been induced to become our enemies by lying
Idu said they would be only too glad to go with
the Sahib and to help him fight the enemies of the
British Raj. He also told me that he had already
saved my life once that evening.
" How was that? " I asked, my spirits rising as I
gazed through the darkness at my first three recruits.
" Well, Sahib," returned Idu, " when the airship,
which you say is no airship, stopped, in a little while
we saw the figure of a man, carrying a lantern moving
towards us, and Halil here," laying his hand on the
shoulder of one of his pals, " lifted his rifle and was
about to shoot. But I said, e Nay. See, it is but one
man. Let us wait and see who he is/ And then the
lantern went out and there was no longer a target."
" You did well, Idu," I said solemnly. " You
have most certainly saved my life, and as you seem to
be as intelligent as you are brave, I shall appoint
you to my personal staff. I am the officer who has
been sent out to take command of the forces along
the Sarhad, and in Seistan. But at the present
moment my chief concern is to find the right road to
Saindak. Can you show it to me ? "
Idu laughed. " I could lead you there blindfold,
36 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
I felt the difficulties of the road were now over,
and, piloted by these three stalwarts, the car a
source of the utmost excitement and wonderment to
them Allan, Allah-dad and my weary self were, ere
long, safe in the rest-house of the small mud fort at
The following morning, after a good night's rest,
I had a long talk with Idu, and the very favourable
impression I had formed of the man the night before
was greatly increased. I found him by daylight to
be a highly intelligent-looking, splendidly propor-
tioned fellow of about five feet eight, with a big
black beard. I had glimpses, even then, of the keen
sense of humour which was to do so much to lighten
the difficulties of the ensuing campaign. Never
once in all the months to come did I find his wit and
As after-events proved he was absolutely
invaluable. In fact, I often called him, and told
him that I called him, my " head." Not only did he
know every yard of the country, but he knew by
name practically every one of the Raiders, knew their
peculiarities and their weak points as well as their
strength. Idu was a man in a million, and I should
like to think that, some day, this public appreciation
of him, and of what he did to help in this campaign,
may reach him.
After breakfast and my talk with Idu, we set out
on the last march of the first phase of my journey,
and reached Robat by two o'clock in the afternoon.
A PLAN OF CAMPAIGN
An " intelligent " officer Matters political Three tribes and
a fourth Their women and inter- tribal laws Sarhad
conditions A summons to the Chiefs A bid for rank
Telegraph wires and Sheitan Two first-class liars A
strategic scheme An ung-azetted General Lost kit
Swallows and flies Forces available Communications freed
'The Kacha levy and a shock Mirjawa.
MY first visit in Robat was to the officer who had
been commanding the scattered British forces up to
that date. He was a very sick man, and had been
holding out with the utmost difficulty until he could
be relieved. Here I met Major Landon of the 35th
Scinde Horse, one of the three Intelligence Officers
employed by the Indian Government in Persia.
I very quickly realised that Landon was an officer
of very high intelligence, as well as an Intelligence
Officer, and that he had a fund of information
concerning the country, and the conditions and
characteristics of the inhabitants of both Persia and
Baluchistan. In fact, I judged that he would be
such an asset that, then and there, I invited him to
become my Brigade-Major, although I ruefully
remarked that I had, at present, no brigade!
He was keen to accept, but did not know how
the authorities at Simla would view his acceptance
38 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
of such a post, and asked me whether I should be
willing to shoulder the responsibility of annexing
him for the campaign. Considering that my
shoulders were broad enough, I promptly replied
that my orders had been to take command of all the
scattered forces I could find and co-ordinate them,
and that I looked upon him as my second " find,"
Idu and his two companions being the first.
Further, that he was here as Intelligence Officer and
would acquire no intelligence sitting down in Robat,
whereas, if he came with me, he would get all he
wanted at first hand !
I set myself to pick up all the information I could
about the conditions of British " influence " in this
part of Persia, and on the borders of Afghanistan.
To make it in any way clear why we had any
influence here at all we must revert to the old fear of
the threatened advance of Russia on India, in the
days before Russia became our ally in the Great War.
Slowly and gradually Russia had been extending
her influence in the Pamirs until her outposts on the
Oxus River were only eight marches from Chitral.
Evidently, as a wide counter, strategic move, the
Indian Government had sought to increase its own
influence with Persia and Afghanistan by pushing
forward her outposts to Robat and Nasaratabad.
Consequently, at the time of which I am writing,
Robat, Nasaratabad and Birjand were held lightly
by chains of small posts composed entirely of Indian
troops and some local levies commanded by British
A PLAN OF CAMPAIGN 89
officers. Our lines of communication running from
Birjand to Nushki, a distance of about six hundred
miles, were held, in widely scattered posts, by only
one battalion of Indian Infantry and one regiment of
Indian Cavalry and four mountain guns. Thus it
will be seen that it was very difficult to obtain any
troops for a movable column.
A British Consulate had also been established at
Nasaratabad, which is on the borders of Afghanistan
and Persia. During the War the importance and
influence of the Consul increased considerably, as he
was in a position to gather information which was of
great value to the military commanders, who con-
stantly sought his advice.
There was also a Baluch Political Officer, known
as the Sarhad-dar, who worked under orders from the
British Political Officer at Quetta. The Sarhad-dar,
to a certain degree, controlled the Sarhadi Raiders,
occasionally with the help of the Chagai Levies,
which were raised by the Indian Government for this
Supplies were brought to these scattered posts by
camel caravans from India.
Communication with India was maintained by
means of the telegraph. Later on it became
necessary to send out a wireless troop from India
to establish communication between my force at
Khwash and Saindak.
At the same time I did my best to learn all I could
about the tribes amongst whom I was going to
40 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
operate, their ways and customs, and the nature of
the country in which they lived.
A glance at the map will show the situation
and boundaries of the Sarhad literally meaning
boundary. It will be seen that it extends from Jalk
in the East to Galugan in the West. The Eastern
part, from Jalk to Safed-koh, is held by a tribe
known as the Gamshadzais, under their notable
leader, Halil Khan.
The central portion is held by the Yarmahom-
medzais under Jiand Khan, an elderly man, who has
been undisputed chief, and a sort of over-lord of the
whole of the Sarhad, for very many years. He has
been looked upon by his own and neighbouring
tribes as well-nigh a demi-god. As Jiand enters
later, and largely, into this narrative all further
description of him will be reserved till actual contact
is established with him.
Khwash known also as Vasht or Washt is the
capital of the Sarhad, and is situated within Jiand's
jurisdiction, although he is not the actual owner of the
town. The word Khwash literally means " sweet/'
and, I believe, owes its name to the water, which is,
by the way, quite warm when it appears at the
surface of the ground in the immediate vicinity.
The Western portion of the Sarhad, extending
roughly from Khwash to Galugan, is held by the
-fsmailzaiS under their redoubtable leader, Juma
All three of these tribes possess approximately
A PLAN OF CAMPAIGN 41
one thousand families apiece, and, of course, each
family has many members, as well as large numbers
of camels, and herds of sheep and goats.
Each of these tribes, at the time of which I write,
could muster, roughly, from one to two thousand
riflemen, chiefly armed with Mauser rifles and
South of Robat lay a fourth tribe, the JRgki&s
fewer in number than any one of those already
mentioned. This tribe was entirely friendly to the
British, and, although nominally under a leader
called Ibrahim, paid more heed to Idu, who, as I
have already said, was one of the most remarkable
men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He
was also a Havildar (Sergeant) in the Chagai Levies ;
a local force raised by the Indian Government.
These various tribes all belong to the Sunni
branch of the Mahommedan religion, and are of
Arabjorigin. As a whole they are a fine-looking set
of men, slim and graceful, with fine, intelligent faces,
and aquiline features. Their hair is allowed to grow
unrestricted, and falls in long black ringlets, on
either side of the face, in true King Charles I. style.
In fact, one of these men, with whom I afterwards
made good friends, was nicknamed Charles I. on
sight, as, with his flowing ringlets and short pointed
beard, he bore such a strong resemblance to the
pictures of that unfortunate monarch.
These men are fine skirmishers, and will fight
with the utmost bravery when well led, and have
42 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
confidence in their leaders. Being nomads, they
possess but few villages, such as Khwash, Gusht, and
Jalk; which consist of a mud fort or forts and a few
houses. Their lives are spent for the most part in
tents, called Jugis, which are made of camels' hair,
dyed black, and are pitched wherever a convenient
spot can be found.
Wives, families and herds accompany them on
their wanderings from place to place. Their
womenkind are often good-looking, and usually
lighter skinned than the men. The women's
endurance, too, is wonderful, for they can climb the
precipitous hills with as much agility as the men,
bear the hardships of long marches, the violent
summer heat and the intense cold of the winter
nights with great fortitude. They go unveiled, and
appear to be treated well by their husbands and sons.
In fact, in some notable instances, the women of the
Sarhad exercise great influence over their husbands,
and, when this is so, rule with the proverbial " rod of
iron." Each man is allowed four wives, and, though
he does not always acquire this number, he never
The tribes literally live by raiding. They know
no fear, and seldom show mercy. They not only
raid travellers but villages, and, on occasion, large
towns. These raids have been known to be pushed
as far as Meshed, the sacred town and " Mecca " of
Persia, which lies far away in the North upon the
Turkestan border. Such expeditions are carried
A PLAN OF CAMPAIGN 43
out with immense skill and cunning, and are seldom
unsuccessful. The raiders not only loot jewels,
carpets, food, cattle and herds, but women and
children, whom they subject to a life of utter misery.
Persian ladies are frequently carried off in this
way, to become eventually abject slaves subject to
inter-tribal barter. The prices paid for such slaves
naturally vary according to quality, age and looks.
As much as three hundred rupees may be taken as
an average price for a young woman, and as little as
twenty-five rupees for a small child.
But, although they are utterly lawless in regard to
other people, their few inter-tribal laws are fairly
strictly observed. These laws, however, chiefly
consist of the doctrine that Might is Right and
Success pardons all Sins. In the Sarhad a man is
expected to tell the truth unless a lie better suits
his purpose. Any oath given on the Koran is
binding, provided a Mullah or priest is present.
Otherwise such an oath is as often honoured in the
breach as in the observance.
They have, however, some standards of honour to
which they strictly adhere. If, for instance, they
come as invited guests to your camp, or if you go as
an invited guest to theirs, treachery is not thought
of. The laws of hospitality, as in nearly all Eastern
countries, are strictly maintained.
Their food consists mostly of flour-cake, made,
as a rule, of barley, though occasionally of wheat,
and goat-flesh and wild herbs. As their herds always
44 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
travel with them, except when fighting or raiding,
there is always a plentiful supply of meat and milk.
Their slaves, on the contrary, are half starved, and
present the most pitiful contrast to their own women
and children, who are well fed, healthy and provided
with ample clothing.
Their country, the Sarhad, is very arid, sandy,
sparsely cultivated, and crossed by range upon range
of bare volcanic hills, with rugged peaks and
precipitous sides. Some of these hills rise to con-
siderable heights, as, for example, the Koh-i-
Bazman, overlooking Bampur in the South. This
peak reaches an altitude of eleven thousand four
hundred feet. The Koh-i-Taftan is another, of
something over thirteen thousand feet, and is snow-
capped in Winter and early Spring, despite the fact
that it is an active volcano. The word Taftan
signifies boiling. Its crater possesses two main
outlets, from which clouds of sulphur-smoke are
constantly being emitted. The whole summit is in
consequence covered with white ash, so giving it a
wonderfully imposing and picturesque appearance
from a distance, especially at sunset or sunrise. The
effect is very like that of Fuji-Yama, but certainly on
a grander scale.
The hills of this district are all of volcanic origin,
and, for this reason, rich in sulphur and sal-ammoniac
deposits. The low-lying country obviously once
formed the bed of a sea, for the fossils to be found
here in quantity are of marine origin, and the soil is
A PLAN OF CAMPAIGN 45
thickly impregnated with salt. Fresh water is very
scarce, though large salt water lakes are fairly
It is interesting to think how much could be done
with this country were some scheme of irrigation
introduced. The natives have a simple method of
supplying water to meet their wants. This is done
by means of karezes, underground channels which
tap underground springs and so bring the water to
where it is wanted.
Trees are occasionally planted by these karezes,
in the towns, but otherwise are scarcely ever seen in
this inhospitable, arid region, where it is even hard
to find sufficient food for camels, horses or herds,
when on the march. There are occasional valleys
through which a small stream may flow for a certain
distance, but which, very soon, disappears again into
the sand. In those rare spots where water is plenti-
ful the luxuriance of the vegetation is phenomenal,
proving how fertile the country might become
were it irrigated in the same way as are certain
parts of India. Wheat, barley, spinach, cucumbers,
pumpkins and green vegetables grow readily where
Climatic conditions in these regions are curiously
extreme. Great cold prevails in the Winter, but the
heat in Spring and Summer is terrific. There is,
too, a curious feeling of intense lightness in the
atmosphere which induces a queer feeling of
" emptiness " in those unaccustomed to its rarified
46 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
quality. A hot wind, impregnated with sand, blows
in Seistan more or less continually from April to
July, so adding to the general discomfort of the
white man. This wind is known as the Sad-o-
bistroz (literally, " wind which blows for one hundred
and twenty days "). But, though disagreeable and
irritating, this wind saves the health of the Seistani
inhabitants during the most trying months of the
year, as it checks malaria by blowing away the
This rather vague, and very incomplete, attempt
at a sketch of the people who were causing such
serious trouble to our Government, and of the
country in which they lived, may, at any rate,
serve to give some idea of the foe, and his terrain,
in this small but terse campaign which I shall
make an attempt to describe in the following
It grew more evident daily that it was necessary
to organise a movable column to operate against
the Raiders as soon as possible.
There were more troops at Nasaratabad than at
any other post, and I considered that some of these
might well be taken for the purpose. Moreover,
there was a British Consul there whose advice and
information would be very valuable. Accordingly,
Landon and I arranged to go there by car on the first
But I thought it would be a good preliminary
move to find out exactly how the land lay with regard
A PLAN OF CAMPAIGN 47
to the Raiders, and to force them, so to speak, to
declare their policy towards us.
I therefore told the local Baluchi political officer
to send out notices to Jiand Khan, the leader of the
Yarmahommedzais, to Halil Khan, the leader of the
Gamshadzais, to Juma Khan, leader of the Ismail-
zais, and to the leader of the Rekis, to meet the new
British General, just arrived from India, so that
counsel might be taken together on a certain date at.
a small post called Kacha.
Of course, from all I had heard, I did not for one
moment expect these Raider Chiefs to keep the
rendezvous. But if, by some amazing chance, they
did, we might come to some amicable arrangement
and so avoid actual fighting. If, on the other hand,
they refu'sed to do so, it would be tantamount to a
declaration of war.
A few days later I kept the appointment I had
made, but, with the exception of the Reki leaders,
who assured me of their consistent loyalty to the
British, not a single Raider Chief turned up.
Thereupon I returned to Robat and planned my
Already I could see I was going to be badly
handicapped by my lack of rank, and determined to
make a bid for the rank which would give me more
authority. With this object in view I sent a
telegram to General Kirkpatrick already mentioned
as Chief of Staff at Simla, and acting as Commander-
in-Chief in the absence of General Sir Beauchamp
48 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
E> u ff asking him to make me a General, and stating
baldly that I considered it necessary.
It may seem strange that, in this wild, desolate
country, largely in the hands of lawless, rebellious
tribes, it was possible to send a telegram at all. But
a fine telegraph line, right across Persia, connecting
Europe with India, has been in existence for over
fifty years. The concession to erect this line was
obtained from the Shah by Mr Eastwick in 1862,
then British Charge d' Affaires in Teheran.
There had been long negotiations over this
concession, which had been consistently refused by
the Persian Government; but the Shah's personal
friendship for Mr Eastwick prevailed where diplo-
matic negotiations had failed. It was a particularly
advantageous arrangement for us, as, by the contract
drawn up by the Persian Government in 1864, that
Government undertook to construct a telegraph line
from the Persian frontier, near Baghdad, to India, at
the expense of Persia, but to place it under the
control of British officers. This and other telegraph
lines had not been interfered with or cut in any
way by the Raiders, for the simple reason that they
have strong superstitious fears of telegraph wires,
and imagine them in some way to be in close
communication with Sheitans (devils).
Whilst I was awaiting a reply to my urgent
request for an advance in rank, Idu, Landon and I
took counsel together. I asked Idu whether he had
two first-class liars amongst his friends, in whom he
" A GOOD LIAR."
London' : s orderly and chief s-py
A PLAN OF CAMPAIGN 49
could place implicit trust. His eyes twinkled as he
assured me he had many friends on whose complete
fidelity, as well as on whose absolute qualifications,
he could rely.
I then unfolded to him my scheme. It was quite
obvious that it would be utterly impossible to defeat
the Raiders in open fight. They numbered several
thousands of fully armed men, amply equipped, and
supplied with all the ammunition and food they
needed. They were also in their own country, every
yard of which they knew well.
In a straightforward fight any small force we
could muster would be wiped out in a few minutes.
But as it was necessary to fight and beat those
Raiders, who were doing us such immeasurable
damage, bluff must be used to strengthen our arms.
I suggested to Idu that he should procure his two
skilled friends and tell them, at the outset, that if
they succeeded in the plan entrusted to them their
pockets would be literally lined with rupees. They
were, then, to run away from me to the two principal
Raider Chiefs, Jiand and Halil Khan, and their
story was to be that they had managed to escape
from the great and famous British General who had
just arrived with five thousand fully armed troops.
Also, that this General Dyer was greatly incensed at
their disobedient method of treating his summons to
meet him at Kacha, and that he was starting in great
force to attack them, but that he was planning to
march first against Halil Khan in the direction of Jalk.
50 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
If Idu's men succeeded in making the Raiders
swallow all this, the immediate stroke I had in view,
namely, an attack on Khwash, might hope for some
success. It would at any rate draw the Raiders off
the lines of communication and so enable supply
caravans to proceed to Robat.
Idu was greatly taken with the idea. It appealed
to his sense of humour, and he had soon produced
his two spies, on whom, he assured us, he could rely
as on himself. Their mission fully explained, Idu's
friends started off at once.
Meanwhile, though I was not yet a General I
determined to act the part. The 28th Light Cavalry
made crossed swords for my shoulders and the
necessary red tabs. The former were considerably
bigger than the regulation pattern, but were other-
wise well made. Then Landon and I went off by
car to Nasaratabad.
We found the place to be a small mud-
walled enclosure with walls of great thickness.
Inside the enclosure were something like a
hundred shops, for the most part kept by Persian
soldiers, whose military duties are not usually
onerous. We made our way to the Consul's house,
and had a very interesting interview with him.
Whilst we were there a telegram arrived from Simla
informing me that I had been promoted to the rank
of Brigadier-General. This was a great relief, for
I now no longer felt an impostor.
As a set-off against this bit of good news, I heard
A PLAN OF CAMPAIGN 51
that the whole of my kit, which had followed me
from Nushki, had been captured by the Raiders.
In addition they had killed my horse, Galahad,
robbed the groom of all his clothing and torn his
golden ear-rings from his ears. On my return to
Robat he came to me stark naked, with his nerves
utterly shattered, and absolutely useless for any
We also met Colonel Claridge, who was com-
manding the 28th Cavalry and the troops at
Nasaratabad. I asked him to send to Robat as
soon as possible all the food supplies he could
collect, two mountain guns, a squadron of cavalry,
and as many infantry as he could spare. I was very
disappointed, however, at the few troops available
at Nasaratabad for the expedition, but I realised that
the situation in Afghanistan demanded the presence
of a fairly strong garrison at Nasaratabad itself.
On the way back to Robat we stopped at a post
where I was accommodated in a room with a domed
mud roof, which had been whitewashed. As I lay
on my blankets in the morning, gazing up at the
roof, I noticed that the dome was covered with small
black spots. As the light grew stronger I realised
that they were flies, thousands of them, in a comatose
condition, owing to the cold of the night.
As the morning advanced, swallows flew in by the
open door, and, fluttering round the dome, picked off
the helpless flies one by one, until not a single one
52 THE RAIDERS OP THE SARHAD
Directly we reached Robat Landon and I set to
work on our plans. After considerable thought we
determined to make an attempt to capture Khwash,
the capital of the Sarhad, and so endeavour to entice
the Raiders off our lines of communication. But it
took some time to get the guns and food supplies to
Robat, for Robat was quite one hundred miles from
Nasaratabad. It was also necessary to get in enough
supplies for a month at least, as it was useless
placing reliance on anything reaching us from
India. In other words we had to be quite
independent of all lines of communication.
At last the two guns, and supplies, under Major
MacGowan, reached Robat, where were now
collected about a dozen or fifteen of Idu's Chagai
Levies, and seventeen Sawars of the 28th Light
Cavalry under Lieutenant Hirst. But I still had
no infantry. That, however, I hoped to get at
Kacha, the garrison of which consisted of a hundred
sepoys of the igth Punjab Infantry, and two maxim
Therefore, Landon and I arranged to go to Kacha
for the infantry, while MacGowan proceeded with
his two guns, seventeen cavalrymen and supplies,
direct to Mirjawa, via Saindak. We would then
join him there, as soon as we had collected the
infantry for our advance on Khwash.
Our real movements had been kept marvellously
secret, whilst the news of the five thousand fully
armed troops under my command had been spread
A PLAN OF CAMPAIGN 53
far and near by Idu's spies ; the consequence being
that the Raiders were all quietly retiring, from
raids upon our lines of communication, to organise
their own Ioshkar s (armies), and their own
Thus, and at any rate temporarily, the lines of
communication of our scattered frontier posts were
cleared, and without striking a blow. One small
objective had at least been accomplished.
While MacGowan's little force was making its
way to Mirjawa, Landon and I rode to Kacha,
reaching that place on the 2nd of April. There
Lieutenant Yates, of the i2th Pioneers, paraded all
the men he could lay his hands on in front of the
mess-house, and, as we rode up, gave the order for
the men to present arms.
The result was a shock.
I dismounted and called on all those men who had
ever fired a shot in their lives to fall out.
To my dismay only nine men obeyed.
Lieutenant Yates told me that he had done his
best with the men, but the greater proportion of
them were mere raw recruits. It was a bitter disap-
pointment, and it was very obvious that a great deal
of brick-making had to be done without straw.
But there was nothing else for it. These were
the only men, trained or untrained, available for
the expedition, and I had to be thankful for
I took the nine trained soldiers, sixty-five of the
54 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
untrained recruits, and two maxim guns belonging
to the 1 2th Bioneers, and, with these, Landon and
I made our way to the rendezvous at Mirjawa,
where we all met on the evening of the 6th of
BLUFF AND ARMS
Ladis and its fort A force without arms First sight of the
enemy Shah Sawar and more bluff Battle Bluff succeeds
Casualties Bad news from the North Idu's proposition
Jiand's stragglers Jiand's white flag.
THE following day we marched to Ladis, reaching
that place just before nightfall, and without incident.
Ladis is a camping place situated in a compara-
tively fertile tract of country fully four thousand feet
above sea-level on the slopes of the famous Koh-i-
taftan. A considerable stream flows through the
valley. If this stream were exploited for irrigation
purposes the whole district could be made most
productive and profitable. The climate is far
better than in the greater part of the Sarhad, and
there is an abundance of chikor and other partridges,
ibex, and wolves.
On the right bank of the stream is a fine old
deserted fort, which is far more substantially built
than the occupied forts of Khwash and Jalk, but it
has been ruined by the disintegrating effect of the
water on the banks on which it is built. A passage
at the base of it indicates that at one time an under-
56 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
ground tunnel connected the fort, which lies on the
right bank, with the left bank, thus affording a means
of escape, or of reinforcement, for the garrison.
We found, waiting for us at Ladis, a band of
about fifty Rekis, who had come to join the
expedition in answer to an urgent appeal from Idu.
I found they had no arms, ammunition or equip-
ment, and asked them where their rifles were.
' We have none, Sahib," their spokesman replied.
" We thought the General Sahib would give us
I was obliged to tell them that we had no spare
arms, but as every extra man would be an asset in
our great game of bluff I was not going to let them
go, and would find some means of utilising their
At first they were greatly disappointed to find
that they were not going to be awarded a free issue
of British rifles, and commented on the absurdity
of a force of the size they saw before them attempt-
ing to attack the great Raider Chief, Jiand Khan.
" Why, Sahib," the spokesman said, " Jiand has
fully two thousand well-armed men, all out to meet
you. They will wipe you out in about two
If it came to an open fight we all knew that this
was literally true. But we were relying on bluff and
The local political officer, a Baluch, was entirely
of the Rekis' way of thinking, and did his utmost to
BLUFF AND ARMS 57
persuade us to turn back and save our skins. But
we had not come so far to turn back. Orders were,
therefore, given to go forward.
Fortunately for us, and before we struck camp
early on the following morning, another political
officer arrived to supersede him a man of totally
different calibre. Khan-Bahadur, the Sarhad-dar
(the chief political officer of all matters concerning
the Sarhad) was full of fight, greatly taken with our
game of bluff, and fully prepared to enter into its
spirit, the only spirit which could possibly bring such
an enterprise as ours to a successful conclusion.
From Ladis the force marched South in the
direction of Khwash, covering about eighteen miles.
This was not bad going when it is remembered that
the average rate for a camel caravan over rough
sandy country of this sort is about ten or twelve miles
a day. We camped that night in a narrow valley,
surrounded by hills, and with a good water supply.
The following day the march was resumed, and
we were beginning to wonder how soon we should
get in touch with Jiand's forces when our advance
scouts reported that the enemy was just ahead, and
encamped on the low hills running out in spurs from
Our force was halted, and, riding forward myself,
I dismounted and took a good look at the enemy's
position. This appeared to be, as I had to admit
to myself, a very strong one, and, as far as I could
gather, it looked as if it had been no idle report that
58 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
Jiand's force numbered something like two thousand
men. In any case we were in for it now, and must
take our chances as they came.
I rode back, ordered the mountain guns to be
brought up to some low hills on the left, and the
cavalry to move forward under cover to the right.
The transport camels, numbering about six
hundred, now came up, under cover, and were put in
charge of the sixty-five untrained infantrymen. The
two machine guns were brought up to a favourable
position in the centre, and our little force was now
fully deployed for action.
At this moment a man mounted on a camel was
seen coming from the enemy's camp, accompanied
by a man on foot carrying a white flag of truce.
When the messenger had approached nearer the
Sarhad-dar exclaimed, " Why, it is Shah Sawar
Now Shah Sawar was a very famous Raider
Chief, and a relation of Jiand's. At one time he had
been the owner and governor of Khwash, but it
appears that he had greatly coveted, as a bride, a
very beautiful lady known as the Gul-Bibi, or Rose
Lady. As usual, negotiations were conducted
between the prospective bridegroom and the lady's
nearest male relative, who, in this instance, happened
to be a somewhat weak-charactered man named
Mahommed-Hassan. The price that Mahommed-
Hassan placed on the Gul-Bibi was no less than the
ownership of Khwash itself. Shaw Sawar's infatu-
BLUFF AND ARMS 59
ation drove him to pay the price, though, from what
I came to know of the ruffian afterwards, I am
perfectly convinced that he had every intention of
recovering his patrimony as soon as a favourable
opportunity presented itself.
When he rode up to me, preceded by the flag of
truce, I was struck by his fine appearance.
He announced that he had come with a message
from his kinsman, Jiand Khan, to the effect that,
" If the General Sahib, accompanied by only one
man, would meet Jiand half-way, Jiand, also accom-
panied by one man, would meet him and discuss the
Of course the very last thing I wanted to do was
to prolong any negotiations. Every moment that
passed increased the danger that our bluff would be
discovered, for it was quite obvious that, up to date,
Jiand believed in the existence of the great force
being brought against him under a British General,
as reported to him by Idu's spies. Therefore, it
was necessary to bluster, and answer indignantly,
" How dare you come to a British General with any
such proposal from a scoundrel like Jiand? Go
back and tell him that I am coming, not half-way,
but the whole way, and at once. I will give you
time to take him my message. I will then fire a
shot into the air as the signal that hostilities have
begun, and the attack, which will wipe him out, will
Shah Sawar was visibly impressed, and, after a
60 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
few moments' hesitation, beckoned to the man who
had come with him. After a whispered colloquy the
latter returned to Jiand with the General Sahib's
message. Shah Sawar himself said that he intended
to remain with me.
He was obviously cowed and bewildered. He
firmly believed we had a great army in the low hills
behind us, and deemed it safer to remain with us as
a prisoner than to return to Jiand's camp and engage
in a battle against five thousand troops which he
could not see from his present position !
Whilst the messenger was racing back to Jiand
the seventeen cavalrymen were ordered to show
themselves, and as they topped the hills, apparently
the advance guard of a great force, their big horses
looked most imposing.
Lieutenant Hirst, commanding them, was directed
to make a pretence of threatening the left flank and
rear of Jiand's position, but ordered not to go too
Then, as soon as information came that Jiand's
messenger had reached his camp some six hundred
yards distant and had had time to deliver his
message, one of the Chagai Levies was ordered to
fire a shot into the air as a signal that the battle
He pulled his trigger, but nothing happened.
I told him to try again.
Again he pulled the trigger, and this time with
the desired result.
BLUFF AND ARMS 61
The battle had begun.
The order to charge was given. The cavalry
moved rapidly to the right, the machine guns
rattled, and the infantry nine trained men and a
handful of Chagai Levies, rushed forward in the
What happened in the enemy's camp I only
learned afterwards, but it appears to have been as
follows: Jiand, seeing the cavalry advancing as if
to threaten his retreat, really believed that the
mythical army of five thousand was commencing its
attack in full force, and, mounting his own camel, he
gave an order which literally amounted to a " sauve
qui peut." In any case, and in a moment, his force
was scattered in a frenzy of terror, and in full retreat,
amongst the hills and valleys.
For a moment Landon and I looked at each other.
Then, as we realised that the great bluff had
succeeded, we rushed forward, with a loud whoop,
closely accompanied by the Sarhad-dar. As we
were mounted, we got ahead of the others, and
actually overtook a number of Jiand's men retreating
down a nullah. We emptied our revolvers into
them, and some of our infantry coming up, their
terror was increased, for they thought they had been
trapped by overwhelming numbers.
The enemy had suffered a loss of seven killed.
On our side we had one man wounded, and I
honestly believe he was wounded by one of our own
untrained infantrymen, who, in the excitement and
62 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
enthusiasm of the moment, had disobeyed orders
and joined in the chase.
By the evening there was no one left in sight to
chase, so we halted and made preparations to camp
where we were. Only a few hours before we had
known that if the truth of our numbers had leaked
out not one of us would live till night to tell the tale.
Fortunately the secret had been well kept, and,
although we had only accounted for seven of the
enemy, it was obvious we had won a decisive victory.
Jiand's entire force was scattered and demoralised,
and it would take him a considerable time, even
when he did learn how he had been tricked, to collect
He was a very notable man, with enormous power
and prestige, not only with his own tribe, the
Yarmahommedzais, but with all the nomad tribes of
the district, and was regarded as a personage by
the Governments of both India and of Persia. His
defeat would be a very bitter pill for him to swallow.
Although he was looked on by the Ismailzais and
the Gamshadzais as a sort of over-lord, even of their
own Chiefs, there was always great rivalry between
the various tribes, and he would know that Juma
Khan, whilst outwardly sympathising with him,
would, in reality, be jubilant.
Accordingly, and for the sake of his own prestige,
he must make the most of the forces brought against
him. That very evening I learned from one of his
men, who had been overtaken and brought back
BLUFF AND ARMS 68
as a prisoner, that he had given out that he had
had seven hundred men killed and amongst the
number was his own favourite son. The death of
this son, I afterwards found, was a bitter blow to
the famous old Chief, and I have always been sorry
that he credited my hand as being the one which
had struck him down, though this was absolutely
Seven men multiplied by a hundred was not bad
as a free advertisement. But I determined to go
" Seven hundred! " I retorted to the trembling
prisoner. " Nonsense! If you had said seven
thousand, it would be far nearer the mark."
Now the great thing was to make the most of
our almost bloodless victory near Koh-i-taftan, and
pursue Jiand and his men as far as possible amongst
the rocky fastnesses of the hills into which they had
fled. If only the old ruffian could be persuaded to
surrender before the bluff was called, it would be
just possible to make the other tribes think that the
whole game was up, and so make terms with us;
thus obviating a long and harassing campaign.
So we pursued him for two days, as far as
Kamalabad, his own special winter headquarters,
nearly overtaking him. But he just eluded us as
we entered the place by riding out at the other end,
and so escaped into the Morpeish Hills, where it
was quite hopeless to think of following him with
our very small force.
64 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
On the other hand, if we left him there, he became
an hourly menace. It could be only a question of
time before Jiand would be bound to learn how he
had been duped. He would then collect his men
once more, summon the other tribes to his assistance,
and wipe out our little force as he might have done,
had he only known, at Koh-i-taftan.
Moreover, news had just reached us of an
untoward little incident which had occurred away
to the West of Robat. A small British force had
been operating in the vicinity of Nasaratabad-sippi
(not to be confused with Nasaratabad in Seistan)
and this force had been attacked in overwhelming
numbers by the Ismailzais, under Juma Khan. It
had suffered considerable loss, not only in men, but
in mules, rifles, and, most important of all, ammuni-
tion. The British officer commanding had fought
ably and had averted disaster, but the losses had
been sufficient to create a rumour that Juma Khan
had scored an exaggerated victory.
This must undoubtedly be avenged, and the only
hope of doing so was to strike at once, and whilst
Jiand's forces were still scattered and demoralised.
Landon, the Sarhad-dar, Idu and I immediately
took counsel together. We discussed the reports
of the various scouts who had been sent out in every
direction. It appeared that the redoubtable Jiand
had received a great shock, and that his nerves were
thoroughly shattered. He had dearly loved his
son, and the loss was a great grief. He also firmly
BLUFF AND ARMS 65
believed he had lost a great number of his followers
in killed and wounded, and his pride was suffering
badly in the loss of his prestige as a practically
Then Idu evolved a brilliant scheme by which
he believed we should be able to lure Jiand, in his
present broken state, to surrender. Kamalabad,
where we were at present encamped, and which
was Jiand's favourite winter residence, is one of the
few spots in the Sarhad well irrigated and con-
sequently well cultivated. The place is freely
intersected with karezes, from which the fields are
systematically watered. Moreover, the valley is
watered on its Western side by a stream which
gushes out of the ground, and, after flowing past
Gazo, winds round the Northern slopes of the
Morpeish Hills and the Sar-i-drokan, to lose itself
soon afterwards in the sand.
Kamalabad is not, strictly speaking, a village, as
there are no houses there. But it becomes densely
populated when Jiand's nomad families camp there
in their jugis during the winter months.
Beyond this fertile valley, which for half the
year is teeming with life, though it is practically
deserted during the summer months, the Morpeish
Hills rise abruptly and precipitately out of the plain
to a height of ten thousand feet.
On the farther side of these hills, and shut in
beyond by the Sar-i-drokan Range, rising to about
the same height as the Morpeish Hills, and running
66 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
parallel with them for a distance of about seventy-
five miles, is another valley, Jiand's favourite summer
It will thus be seen that it was utterly impossible
to think of attempting to drive Jiand out of his
refuge. Even supposing that we succeeded in
dislodging him from the Morpeish Hills he would
at once make for the Sar-i-drokan, a range which
would be still more difficult to negotiate, apart from
the fact that it would draw us farther and farther
from our base and any hope of supplies. But it
was evident that something must be done, and done
quickly. Idu's proposal was, therefore, the only
one offering any hope of success.
All the crops of wheat and barley in the Kamala-
bad Valley were then at their full growth, though
still green, and it was upon these crops, when
harvested, that Jiand and the entire Yarmiahom-
medzai tribe relied for their yearly bread supply.
Idu's idea was substantially this, that we should
send a message to Jiand, whilst he still believed
himself pursued by a vast force, summon him to
surrender forthwith, and tell him that, if he failed
to comply with the instant summons, the whole of
his crops would be destroyed. Anyhow the idea
was worth trying.
Accordingly, trustworthy messengers were sent to
him telling him that if he surrendered himself on
behalf of his tribe, before sundown on the following
day, the lives of himself and his followers would
BLUFF AND ARMS
be safe, and his crops would be spared. If, however,
he failed to surrender by the appointed time, six
hundred camels, which had already arrived with the
advance guard of the great force operating against
him, would be turned loose in his fields, and, as he
well knew, would make very short work of his crops.
The hours that passed between the sending out
of the messengers, and the time limit for Jiaind's
surrender, were very anxious ones. Would bluff
continue to carry us through, or had the bubble
During that day news reached us from stragglers,
who came trembling to join us at Kamalabad, that
many of the old people and women of Jiand's tribe
were in great distress. During the headlong flight
of himself and his fighting men the weaklings were
left behind, and, in their terror, they had fled into
all sorts of hiding places where there was neither
water nor food. Orders were immediately given
that they were to be reassured and succoured in
every way, and that food and water were to be
supplied to them, also jugis, wherever possible, to
The day passed and the time limit was rapidly
running out when, between four and five o'clock in
the afternoon, we saw a little group of men emerge
from the Morpeish Hills, carrying a white flag.
These men approached and announced that they
had come as emissaries from Jiand Khan, who was
on his way to surrender. He admitted his defeat
68 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
by the overwhelming numbers brought against him,
said he knew it was no use continuing to fight against
them, and that his heart was broken by the loss of
his son. For the sake of his people he must save
the crops or they would surely die. Therefore, if
the General Sahib swore on his honour that the lives
of himself and his men would be safe, and that his
crops would be spared, he would surrender.
KHWASH AND MORE BLUFF
Jiand's surrender A political lecture Jiand's oath Bluff for
Khwash The army moves forward Khwash and its fort
Mahommed-Hassan comes in Beetles as scavengers Halil
Khan comes in Rifle prices, a comparison Idu's warning 1
News of Izzat Order of march Bluff for Bampur The
AT five o'clock Jiand arrived riding a camel, and
followed by a few attendants.
I went forward to meet him, and treated him with
all the courtesy due to his position.
He dismounted and offered his salaams. He was
a fine but pathetic-looking figure a tall, spare
man but the weight of years, and the strain
of recent events, were beginning to bow his
shoulders. His thick beard was quite grey, but
his eyes could still flash with passion and anger,
though, at present, they were dulled with grief and
I immediately offered him my condolences
on the death of his son, and told him I had
heard that he believed that I personally was
responsible for his death. I assured him that this
70 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
was not so, and that I greatly regretted that so
valiant a father should suffer the loss of a valiant
son. I then invited him to sit down on a small rise
of ground where a few sparse bushes offered some
shade from the sun, and as we had no seats we sat
down on the ground round him.
I pointed out to Jiand his folly in having proved
false to the traditional friendship which had existed
between him, his tribes and the British Raj. I also
told him that I knew perfectly well he had
been misled by German -Jigs as to the breaking of
British power, coupled with advice to harry the
British lines of communication, and to help himself
to all supplies upon which he could lay his hands
before the German forces advanced into India, for,
when they did, nothing much would be left to take.
But, I asked him, how could a man of his intelligence
have ever allowed himself to be gulled in such a
manner? Had he thought, he must have known that
British might was far too firmly established to be
overthrown by anything so despicable as the German
race, and he must have known too that, in deserting
his old friends the British, and in fighting against
them, he was only courting disaster.
I further asked him if he had ever, with his own
eyes, seen one of the German airships which they
had been boasting were flying everywhere, destroying
enemy's lands, towns and herds. Jiand admitted
that he had not.
I asked him how it came about that, if he had
KHWASH AND MORE BLUFF 71
really believed so much in the strength and power of
the Germans, not one of them was to be found in
the district to come to his help in his present
difficulties? Either they were cowards and had run
away, or they had lied to him and there had never
been any German forces sweeping on victoriously
to wipe out the British Raj.
Jiand admitted the force of all my arguments, and
replied that he, and all the Sarhadis, had been grossly
deceived, but pleaded that he himself had done his
best to restrain his men from interfering with the
British lines of communication, warning them that
it was neither safe nor wise. However, he could
not seriously have expected that I would swallow
this excuse, as he was known to be held in such awe
by his followers that not one of them would have
dared to dispute his authority.
I demanded the return of all government camels
and stores and of my kit, captured between Nushki
and Robat, and he assured me that everything
should be sent back in full.
While we were talking I noticed his eyes kept
wandering round, and, at last, he could restrain his
curiosity no longer, and asked me point blank where
the vast mass of troops was which had conquered
I replied, " It was not necessary to bring all my
men to Kamalabad. I only came here with m.y
advance guard to make you my prisoner. We have
yet to capture Khwash."
72 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
The rest was left to his imagination.
His parole was then demanded, which he promptly
gave, and solemnly swore, on the Koran, that
neither he nor any of his tribe, would raise a hand
again against the British Raj.
Neither he nor the handful of men he had brought
with him, were disarmed. We had to continue our
game of bluff and had to show that we were not in
the least afraid of him.
After I had dismissed him, telling him he would
accompany me wherever I went under open arrest,
Landon, the Sarhad-dar, Idu and myself took
counsel together as to the best way to obtain
the surrender of Khwash with its fort, the main
stronghold of the Yarmahommedzais.
We decided to send a couple of Landon's scouts
direct to Khwash about nineteen miles distant
with a message to Mahommed-Hassan, telling him
that Jiand was a prisoner in my hands, and that he
himself admitted a loss of seven hundred men killed
in open fight with my forces, but that the figure was
an under-estimate. Shah Sawar was also a prisoner
in my hands. I called on him, therefore, to
surrender the fort of Khwash to me before twelve,
noon, on the following day, or warned him I should
blow the whole place to the skies. Nor should I
hold myself responsible for the future action of my
Idu's eyes twinkled. " Just suppose, General
Sahib, that Mahommed-Hassan refuses; may I ask
KHWASH AND MORE BLUFF 73
how you propose to blow Khwash to the skies or
anywhere ? "
I replied with becoming dignity that I should of
course blow it to the skies with my artillery.
Idu roared with laughter. He said he had seen
my pop-guns firing and he was afraid that, unless our
bluff could do the trick, I should be unpleasantly
surprised at the strength of the walls of Khwash.
The next morning our entire force of two
mountain guns, two machine guns, seventeen
cavalrymen, nine trained and sixty-five untrained
infantry and a handful of Chagai Levies, moved
forward to the assault of the Raiders' stronghold.
By eleven o'clock, and while we were still about
three miles distant, we came into full view of the
fort. Even from that distance I could see that Idu's
boast as to its strength was no idle one, and that
if Mahommed-Hassan elected to put up a fight we
could not possibly expect to be able to take it by
Our anxieties were now further increased by
rumours that Halil Khan, with all his Gamshadzais,
was on the way to reinforce Jiand, of whose personal
surrender he had not yet heard.
Our objective, Khwash, lay on a plateau about six
miles wide, bordered on either side by two ranges
of hills. These hills have an altitude of some six
thousand feet and run parallel to each other on the
North-East and South-West sides of the fort. The
fort itself is somewhere about four thousand five
74 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
hundred feet above sea-level. This plateau was
at one time well populated, well wooded and culti-
vated with some seventy-three karezes running
along it, all tapping the great underground
stream which flows from the Southern slopes of the
We were hot and played out after our sixteen-
mile march, so halted to rest, and to speculate as to
whether Mahommed-Hassan would surrender on, or
before, the time-limit given him.
We had not long to wait, however, for hardly
had we halted when we saw a messenger, on foot
and carrying a white flag, coming towards us.
He salaamed as he reached us and said he bore
a message from Mahommed-Hassan, imploring me
not to blow Khwash into the skies, as he had heard
all about the defeat of the Yarmahommedzais under
Jiand, and that, under the circumstances, he recog-
nised the folly of attempting to oppose my advance.
Moreover, he was now on his way to surrender
himself and the fort.
So bluff still held the day!
And sure enough, a few minutes later,
Mahommed-Hassan, a miserable-looking creature,
arrived and tendered his formal surrender.
As we marched forward in style to enter the fort
the Yarmahommedzai garrison marched out and
joined the local population of " Khwashis," who
have lived in and around the fort for many
generations. These latter are peaceful cultivators
KHWASH AND MORE BLUFF 75
of the soil, and are allowed to exist because they are
useful servants to Jiand and his fighting men.
They and their womenfolk are graciously allowed
to keep a certain proportion of the crops they grow,
the bulk of which goes to Jiand. These Khwashis
are a much lower type of humanity than the Raiders,
and only ask to be allowed to exist in peace.
The fort, on closer inspection, proved to be some
seventy yards square, with two gates, one to the
South-East and one to the North- West. The outer
walls rise to about thirty feet with towers at the four
corners, three of which are about thirty-five feet
high, while the fourth is probably fully fifty feet.
This latter tower was the one occupied by the
Of the seventy-three fine karezes originally
existing in and around the fort we could only find
two. But one of these was a particularly good one
whose waters came to the surface and flowed outside
the South-East walls in an extraordinarily clear and
limpid stream, in refreshing contrast to so many of
the tepid, brackish streams found throughout the
But the one feature of the neighbourhood which
struck me most forcibly was the quantity of beetles
to be found everywhere. Never in my life have
I seen so many. They were of the variety
commonly known as dung-beetles. This kind is
larger than the ordinary house beetle, round and
flat, jet black, and can fly, which adds to its
76 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
unpleasantness. Directly occasion offers it flies
from every direction and is soon rapidly and
effectively at work. As a scavenger, unpleasant as
it is, it undoubtedly represents a provision of nature
to keep the place where sanitation is unknown-
clean and healthy.
A few trees are scattered round Khwash, and a
welcome sight these were after unending vistas of
sandy waste and bare hillside.
The country in the close vicinity of Khwash was
well cultivated, whilst I noted with satisfaction that
some of the hill slopes were covered with a tall grass.
This would prove invaluable as fodder for the
That same day another piece of good news
reached us, to the effect that Halil Khan, the great
leader of the Gamshadzais, had just heard of the
surrender of Jiand, also the full details of his great
defeat, and loss of seven hundred men. But beyond
this the news ran that he was coming himself to
surrender, and to tell me that he had seen the folly
of his past actions.
Upon receipt of this news Landon and I looked
at each other and then roared with laughter. We
began to realise that the Battle of Koh-i-taftan had
indeed been a decisive victory!
That same evening Halil Khan, and about fifty
of his chosen men, arrived, and, formally salaam-
ing, surrendered themselves. I was immensely
impressed by the appearance of this Raider Chief.
KHWASH AND MORE BLUFF 77
He was not very tall, but was magnificently
proportioned and developed, with an intelligent,
handsome head, and a peculiarly alert look. He
certainly looked what he was well known to be,
namely, one of the best fighting leaders in the
He and all his men were armed with Mauser rifles
and an abundance of ammunition. Halil Khan
seemed wedded to his, and when he was informed
that the General Sahib was going to extend to him
the same terms as to Jiand and allow him to keep
his rifle, his joy was very apparent.
These German rifles had either been provided by
the Germans, and sent direct across Persia, or were
the outcome of the gun-running in the Persian Gulf
prior to the War.
The price of a Mauser in the Sarhad, at that time,
was about one thousand one hundred rupees, though
I was glad to learn that the British Lee-Enfield was
valued at one thousand two hundred rupees. The
real cost of manufacturing these rifles is, I believe,
from six to ten pounds or sixty to one hundred
rupees, so that it will be seen what sort of a price the
Raiders are prepared to pay for their arms.
Halil Khan was particularly anxious to learn how
we had managed to defeat Jiand, and was of course
curious to know where the vast British forces were.
But he gathered no more information than Jiand
My own private opinion is that Halil Khan was
78 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
disgusted with Jiand for surrendering, and that he
himself would have dearly loved a fight, for as I
was afterwards to learn to my cost he was not
only a magnificent fighter, but did not know the
meaning of fear.
The only way in which I can account for his own
surrender for only a day or so previously he had
been fully prepared to fight us is that he had just
become aware of the fact that Jiand was a prisoner
in our hands. He was afraid, therefore, that if he
attacked us the proud old Chief might suffer, . and
that, on the whole, it would be wiser to appear
submissive for the moment.
But Idu warned me at the time, and again and
again in the immediate future, " Jiand and Halil
Khan will never rest until they have fought you
again. Unless you can get a much larger force, at
the very first opportunity, and almost certainly when
they learn that you have at present practically no
troops, they will turn and attack you. Place no
reliance on their word or their oath, even though it
be given on the Koran."
That same evening I learnt of a great raid that
had recently been made into Persia by a section of
the Yarmahommedzais, under a leader called Izzat.
As an outcome of this raid hundreds of Persian
ladies and children had been dragged from their
homes and brought by Izzat into the Sarhad, there
to be bartered as slaves. Their sufferings, both
from the indignity and shame of their present state,
KHWASH AND MORE BLUFF 79
and the hardships they must inevitably have under-
gone amongst their nomad captors, after the com-
parative luxury of their own homes, can well be
The Sarhad-dar, a well-educated and sensitive
man, as well as a brave fighter, was so overcome by
the picture drawn of the sufferings of these wretched
women and children that he burst into tears, and
sobbing like a child, pleaded with me to ignore
everything else and to at once set about returning
these Persians to their homes.
Strongly as my own wishes coincided with his, I
knew such a course to be impossible. I had still
more important things to do. Moreover, our own
situation might become desperate at any moment.
Although Jiand and Halil Khan, with a handful of
their followers, were prisoners in my hands, their
tribes were at large, and at the first suspicion of the
trick that had been played on them would be on
us like a swarm of bees. It must be remembered
too, that Juma Khan of the Ismailzais was still at
liberty, in a position to learn that we really had no
troops, and might bring his men against us at any
It was obvious, therefore, that I had to deal with
him before I dared attempt the rescue of any Persian
women, though the thought of them and their
plight, and the determination to endeavour to rescue
and return them to their homes at the first possible
moment never left me.
80 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
The following day I decided to hold a Durbar,
so gave orders that all the Sarhadi Chiefs were to
be present, and that they could bring as many of their
followers as they chose.
The Durbar was held on the banks of the stream,
just outside the fort, and under the shade of one of
the trees. We all sat on the ground, and I opened
the Durbar as I thought a commissioner might do
in India, though, truth to tell, I knew very little
indeed about Durbars !
I explained to the Sarhadi Chiefs, Jiand, Halil
Khan, Shah Sawar, and Mahommed-Hassan,
that the Sirkar (literally, ruling power) was not
represented in force by what they saw at Khwash.
They might be interested to know, however, that
some four millions of the very finest troops in the
world were then fighting under the British flag in
various theatres of war all over the world, and that,
as surely as night follows day, Germany would be
defeated, because right and might were on our
I explained to them collectively, as I had
explained to Jiand individually, that they had been
misled by German lies and propaganda into believing
that Germany was winning, and also that the
Germans had turned Mussulmans. I told them that
it was quite the other way about, for, in point of
fact, their own fellow-Mahommedans, the Turks,
had really become Germans, taking their orders from
their new masters, and had taken to drinking wine
KHWASH AND MORE BLUFF 81
and to doing other acts absolutely contrary to the
teachings of the Koran.
I told them that Christians never became Mahom-
medans, though it was easy for them to say so to
secure their own ends. I also told them that I
would give them a lakh of rupees for every German
they could produce who had really become a
follower of the Prophet. I advised them that on
such matters they should look for decision to the
Sherif of Mecca as their spiritual head, and that he
was entirely on the British side.
They were then recommended no longer to make
fools of themselves, for I had originally come to
the Sarhad as their friend, and that, though they
had fought against me, I was willing to let bygones
be bygones and to be friends with them in the
future. I also pointed out that all their interest lay
in retaining the friendship of the Sirkar, for they
would surely lose their country for ever if they
persisted in the mad course of opposing us.
I asked them why their new friends had not helped
them to oppose me, with advice if with nothing else ?
And, if these friends had 1 really been sweeping
victoriously on to overcome the British Raj, why
they were not there with them ?
Jiand, Halil Khan, Shah Sawar and Mahommed-
Hassan all expressed their keen regret at what had
occurred, promised that they would return to their
old allegiance, and that, instead of fighting me any
more, they would help me to restore order in the
82 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
Sarhad. They also promised to bring Juma Khan
and his Ismailzais to book.
I then explained my plans for the immediate
future. I told them of my intention to retain
Khwash as a pledge for their good behaviour, and
until such time as a benign Indian Government
might see fit to return it to them. But I promised
that I would send in a faithful report of their
repentance for their past misdeeds, and of their
promise to assist us in the future, and told them they
might rest assured that the Government would do all
that was right and fair.
The following day we marched out once more with
the object of attacking Juma Khan at Galugan,
leaving the head of the Reki clan (I think his name
was Mirza Khan) in command of Khwash, with
a few of his own tribe, and five of my nine infantry-
men who could handle a rifle. Not, it will be con-
sidered, a very formidable garrison to leave in charge,
but it was impossible to spare any more men.
We marched in the following order: Shah
Sawar and his men were in front as advance guards,
Halil Khan and the Gamshadzais on the left flank,
and Jiand and his Yarmahommedzais on the right
flank. Our infantry went with the baggage, and the
guns and ammunition brought up the rear. The
cavalry and a few infantrymen formed my personal
I hoped by this arrangement to keep the
various Sarhadi Chiefs well apart so that they might
KHWASH AND MORE BLUFF 83
be unable to compare notes. My own small force
was kept in the rear, and well together.
I was asked by the Raiders why I was making all
these careful arrangements to protect my camels.
I replied that in war one had to be prepared to
meet any emergency, and that I was not at all
satisfied with what I had heard concerning the
conduct of the Khan of Bampur, for there had been
rumours that he might be foolish enough to try
conclusions with me.
Bampur is situated in Persian Baluchistan, fully
six marches away to the South of Khwash, and is
overlooked by the Koh-i-Bazman. Bampur, it will
be remembered, was the old capital of Baluchistan,
but to-day it is only a squalid collection of mud-
built huts and deserted gardens, clustered round a
semi-ruined fort standing in an unhealthy, malarial
It was held at this date by a Baluchi Chief,
apparently as cowardly as he was arrogant. The
fear I expressed of his intention was to lull any
possible suspicion of the Sarhadi Chiefs nominally
my prisoners as to the formation of my battle
array ; but there remained a modicum of truth behind
the reason given.
When we halted that night Landon, the Sarhad-
8ar, Idu and myself, as usual, took counsel as to the
next day's movements, and finally decided to send
two of Landon's spies to Bampur. Arrived there
they were to tell the Khan that they had run away
84 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
from us to warn him, because my mighty army, now
on the march, might possibly take Bampur in its
stride. In addition they were to tell him that, whilst
it was true that the General commanding had given
out that he was only going to march along the borders
of the Bampur district in order to reach Galugan,
where he intended to crush Juma Khan, they fully
believed this to be only a blind, and that Bampur
was to be first destroyed. Khwash itself had
recently been threatened, and had only escaped
destruction by surrender. It was now left in charge
of five hundred of the British General's best troops,
with ample supplies for a month.
It was only later on that I learned the success of
this mission. The two spies arrived on a certain
night at about one a.m. and did their part so well
that, by two a.m., the terrified Khan had mounted
his camel, and set forth for Makran.
Makran is an arid region lying along the shores
of the Persian Gulf, and stretching inland for a
distance of about sixty miles. It is filled with bare,
dry mountains, and hills with curiously serrated
edges. From the more fertile parts large quantities
of dates are grown and exported.
Arrived at the headquarters of the British political
officer, Colonel Dew, the Khan flung himself on his
mercy, and implored him (so I have been told) not
to allow General Dyer to attack him, though I have
never seen Colonel Dew since to obtain an
authentic account of the interview.
KHWASH AND MORE BLUFF 85
But this was another potential enemy cleared
from our path, at any rate for the moment, and this
was all that mattered to us.
On, or about, the i5th of April we continued our
march towards Galugan, and on the second day
came in view of the Koh-i-Bazman, an extinct
volcano. This is an imposing mountain of between
ten and eleven thousand feet, covered with snow
and rising, a sheer, solitary peak, out of the plain.
At one point on the march Idu asked me whether
I would like to see a curious hole in the ground
lying only a little way off our line of route.
We turned aside for a few hundred yards, and,
on a plain as flat as a billiard-table, with a surface
coated with hardened clay obviously, at one time,
the bed of a lake we came upon it. The perfectly
level, smooth lips of the hole offered no suggestion
that it had been excavated by human agency. On
the contrary, it gave the appearance of having
been punched in the ground by some tremendous
force. The hole was about one hundred and
fifty feet long, one hundred and twenty feet
wide, and about fifty feet deep, with absolutely
Idu asked whether I could suggest any explana-
tion of this formation, and, after examination, I
admitted I had none to offer, asking him in turn
whether any tradition was attached to it.
He replied that the hole had once been only half
its present size, but twice as deep, and that his
86 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
grandfather remembered how and when the hole was
The old man had told him that, one night when
he was a youth, something had exploded in the sky
and fallen to the earth, punching a hole one hundred
feet deep in the plain. Owing to weather and
climatic conditions, the sides of this hole had
gradually fallen in, hence its present width and
There can, therefore, be little doubt that an
enormous meteorite fell here, and that it lies buried
at the bottom of this hole. Its locality is about
seven hundred yards from a hill called Gwarko, and
could easily be found by anyone interested in such
This is not the only natural feature which would
repay a visit from those interested in natural science,
for, though I am no geologist or scientist myself, I
was greatly interested in the numerous gorges in
the vicinity of Kacha, a post in the hills near Robat,
where, at certain seasons of the year, violent spates
occur, and the rushing water has so burnished the
sides of the rocks that they glisten in the sun like
polished, variegated marble. The sections so made
show a close mass of fossils, which, apparently, were
once oysters, centipedes, crabs, etc.
A FULL BAG OF PRISONERS
The march to Kacha The food supplyFlowers in the Wilder-
ness Galugan Repeated strategy Juma Khan comes in
The bag: is full The throne of the dancing- maidens
Landon declines Idu's doubts Suspicions aroused Halil
Khan closes up Kacha, oaths, and thumb-marks The
Chiefs depart Bad news.
THE march from Khwash to Kacha was over
constantly ascending ground, and the higher the
altitude reached the more abundant did the vegeta-
On the third day I noticed that a great many of
the Raiders were carrying bunches of green stuff
under their arms, plucked along the line of march,
and I asked Idu what they were going to do with it.
He replied that they would eat it raw, and supple-
mented this information with the further news that,
beyond a few dried dates, the surrendered Raiders
had brought hardly any rations with them.
Consequently, and very shortly, I should be called
upon to feed them. This was an alarming prospect.
We had left a generous supply of food behind for
the garrison of Khwash, thus reducing our own
88 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
rations to a bare sufficiency for the considerable
distance to be covered.
I instructed Idu to ward off the evil day as long
as possible, but told him that, in the last extremity,
our food supplies would, of course, be fairly and
evenly shared with the Sarhadis.
At this stage in the march we reached a height of
some seven thousand feet, and I was struck with the
beauty of the scene. Around us the slopes were
covered with a profusion of flowers of every hue,
forming, so it seemed, a vast, variegated carpet.
Although I know nothing whatever of flowers from
a botanical point of view the beauty of many of them
struck me so much that, later in the year, I 'collected
some of the seeds and preserved them carefully
with the idea of home cultivation. These seeds
remained with me in all my wanderings, but, unfor-
tunately, on my journey home the pocket-book
containing them was lost.
One plant in particular, the asefcetida (locally
known as hing), is very striking, and most effective
in the distance. The lower leaves are very big, and
the plant throws up a tall, yellow shoot, two or
three feet high, topped by a cluster of the most
brilliant flowers of the same colour. This plant is
much valued by the Baluchis, and I am told that
large quantities are exported from this district to
We were lucky in finding cool camping places on
the third and fourth nights of the march. On the
A FULL BAG OF PRISONERS 89
fifth we commenced our last march on the plain to
Galugari, the territory belonging to the Ismailzais
under their leader, Juma Khan.
Galugan is like Kamalabad, a district only popu-
lated during certain seasons of the year, when the
Ismailzais make a regular encampment there, live
in jugis, and settle down for a time to the cultivation
of their crops. The place is well watered, with a
very fertile soil capable of bearing magnificent crops
of wheat and barley.
As we approached the camping ground of Galugan
our scouts came back to inform us that Juma Khan
had deserted Galugan, and had gone, with all his
tribe, into the high hills surrounding the place. He
had heard of the defeat of Jiand at Koh-i-taftan, of
his subsequent surrender, and of the capture ;of
Khwash. He had also seen our forces approaching,
and had no hope of success if he had remained to
As a matter of fact we really did present quite an
imposing appearance by this time. Our numbers
had been augmented by small groups of Jiand's and
Halil Khan's men who had joined us at intervals all
along the route.
We accordingly marched, without any opposition,
into Galugan, and found it, as reported, absolutely
deserted, with the exception of one old woman who
had utterly refused to desert her crops, and was
eventually discovered hiding in a .field.
As the threat of destruction to his crops had been
90 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
so successful with Jiand we determined to try
the same threat on Juma Khan. Accordingly,
messengers were sent summoning him to surrender
at once, with all his force, under a similar penalty.
I told the messengers to impress upon him the fact
that he and his tribe were now quite isolated, that
the Gamshadzais and Yarmahommedzais had
surrendered, but that they, and their leaders, had
been well and generously treated, their lives and
crops spared, and that the same generous treatment
would be accorded to him if he delivered himself
up without delay.
Very shortly he sent back a message to say that
he realised he was in a hopeless position, and was
quite prepared to surrender unconditionally. He also
offered to restore all the plunder he had taken in the
direction of Nasaratabad-sippi. But he asked for a
definite guarantee that his life would be spared.
I sent back word that he need have no fear on
that score. My mission was to make him see the
error of his ways and to re-establish good relations
between his tribe and the British ; also, that he would
be treated exactly as I had treated Jiand and Halil
That same evening he came into camp, with some
thirty of his followers as a body-guard, and formally
He was a somewhat different type from both Jiand
and Halil Khan. Juma Khan was of medium
height, and slightly built. He had a very pleasing,
A FULL BAG OF PRISONERS 91
well-cut, high-bred face, always full of smiles and
laughter, as though life were one huge joke.
Idu, who, as I have already said, knew all about
the Sarhadi Chiefs and their characteristic points,
said to me after I had interviewed Juma Khan, " If
Juma Khan gives you his oath on the Koran he will
keep it. He is well known throughout the Sarhad
as a man who abides by his word. Any promise,
therefore, that he makes to you he will faithfully
I was especially glad that Juma Khan had come
into line, and for a very good reason. The easiest
route for German emissaries into Afghanistan lay
through his territory. On all routes across Persia
water-supply is one of the most vital considerations,
the consequence being that many an otherwise
convenient road had had to be abandoned owing to
lack of water. Now the stream which runs from
Galugan, piercing the hills and running into the
Persian district of Narmashir, offers an excellent
supply, so making this route an easy one for German
agents if not opposed by Juma Khan, But with
Juma Khan on our side it would be practically
impossible for such to get through the Sarhad. It
was, therefore, my policy to treat him with special
consideration. To be plain, I wished him, though
an unwilling captive, to be a real convert to our
All the Sarhadi Chiefs were now prisoners, but the
problem arose as to the best and safest method of
92 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
transporting them, and all their followers, back to
Kacha, fully eighty miles distant. Our own food
supplies were already running very short, yet I was
obliged to promise the Raiders a fair and equal
share of these. We were, therefore, immediately
obliged to go on half rations.
To add to our troubles the weather was beginning
to get very hot on these plains, and I well knew that,
at any rate on some days owing to water difficulties
it would be necessary to make long marches.
The first march out of Galugan proved to be
heavy uphill work, our route lying up a steady, steep
incline. But at night we found a suitable camping
ground by the side of a stream. Here again the
ground was covered by a mass of beautiful flowers.
The following day we descended to the Duzd-ab
plain, and had only crossed some five miles of it
when a hill of such extraordinary appearance came
into view that Landon and I simultaneously
exclaimed. This looked for all the world like a
huge mushroom with flattened dome and very thick
stem obviously a hill whose upper part was of a
harder formation than the lower, thus resisting with
better success the attacks of time and weather.
Idu cantered up on his pony and pointed to the
hill with pride. " That, Sahib," he said, " is called
the Takht-i-Jinikan " (throne of the dancing
" Why was it given that name ? " I asked. " Do
maidens live there alone ? "
A FULL BAG OF PRISONERS 93
Idu grinned. " Listen, Sahib, and I will tell you
the story of the Takht-i-Jinikan. On beautiful
moonlight nights immortal maidens are supposed to
dance on the flat top of this hill. If a young man
is really very good he may climb to the top of the
hill alone, while they are dancing, in the hope of
obtaining a bride. But he must be very good to be
sufficiently worthy to win the love of one of these
immortal maidens. If he succeeds she becomes
mortal, and they are married."
I asked Idu if he had met anyone who had
obtained an immortal bride.
Idu smiled. " I fear there is no young man in the
Sarhad good enough to be worthy of the honour! "
I persuaded Landon, who was unmarried, to climb
the hill with me but not by moonlight! On our
return Idu asked Major Landon if he had seen the
Landon replied regretfully that he had not, but
was sure it was because he had not been able
to ascend the hill by moonlight certainly not
because he was not good enough. He, however,
had seen some very large footprints, which he
sincerely trusted, for the sake of the beauty of
the legend, did not belong to these immortal
But what pleased me more than the romantic hill
was the discovery of a stream only a short distance
away. This afforded not only an unexpectedly good
supply of water, but, from a quantity of dry bushes
94 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
along its banks, an abundance of fire wood for
On each day of the march we held counsel with
the Sarhadis and soon became on friendly terms
with them. We found them a very interesting
crowd, full of adventure and the joy of life. They
informed me that, as they had now thrown in their
lot with me, they were quite ready to take part in
any raid with me, if only I would organise one.
Nor did the objective matter. Persia, Afghanistan,
or, in fact, anywhere where there might be excite-
ment and adventurous doings. So friendly, indeed,
were we all that I began to think my work, and the
whole object for which I had been sent to the
But Idu was never optimistic on the subject. He
invariably shook his head, and warned me, in and
out of season, against Halil Khan and Jiand. He,
at last, so infected me with his own anxiety, that I
began to wonder whether the two Chiefs might not
take it into their heads to wipe out our little force
one night. They could have done this with the
utmost ease. This change of mind induced me at
last to make my camp dispositions with redoubled
care. The Raiders were given to understand that
they must take part in organising the camp against
some unknown foe who might make them, as well
as myself, an object of attack.
My suspicions were further aroused by the minute
way in which they questioned me as to the
A FULL BAG OF PRISONERS 95
individuality of that foe, and the direction from
which it would be possible for him to come. I told
them that habit in soldiers becomes second nature ;
that it was a soldier's habit to take the utmost pre-
caution in self-defence, and that neglected precaution
might always bring possible disaster. But I could
see that they accepted the explanation with doubt,
and obviously disbelieved in my mythical foe.
The third day's march across the Duzd-ab valley
was a very trying one. We had to make a double
march, for our food supplies were almost exhausted,
and it was obviously imperative to reach Kacha as
soon as possible. It must be remembered, too, that
we had been on half rations since leaving Galugan,
and already there had been much grousing amongst
the whole force.
That night we encamped at the base of a hill
which Jiand proudly announced as " Koh-i-Jiand-
siah," or the " Hill of Black Jiand." I asked him
who Black Jiand might be, and he replied that his
father's name was Jiand, though he was not black,
and that the hill had been named after him. The
old fellow was obviously proud of the honour which
had been conferred on his father.
Here Landon and I spent an anxious night, for
both Idu and the Sarhad-dar were very nervous and
depressed. The latter said that a rumour had got
about amongst the Sarhadis that all my promises
and protestations to them were false, and that I was
really leading them into a trap at Kacha, where they
96 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
were all to be killed. Consequently, the idea had
been discussed as to whether it might not be safer,
and wiser, to attack our small force, overwhelm us
during the night, and escape before daybreak.
As may be imagined, the prospect was scarcely a
pleasant one, but we could take no stricter precau-
tions than had already be,en done, and our sole
remaining action now was to show an absolutely
untroubled and confident front to men who, though
nominally our prisoners, held us in the hollow of
their hands. In other words to " trust to luck."
Fortunately for us the Raiders, who still could
not make head or tail of the real situation,
determined on a pacific course, and the night passed
without incident. So luck stood with us, and on
the following morning we were early astir for the
last march south of Kacha.
It was evident that th,e situation had now become
one of the " touch and go " order, so I determined to
emphasise my supposed confidence in the Raiders,
by this means restoring theirs, and convincing them
that there was no trap. I, therefore, gave orders
that none of them were to march in advance, but in
the rear, as I wished to have a clear view of my
As we drew in towards Kacha I noticed that Halil
Khan and his band gathered as close in behind me
as possible, and I learned afterwards that he had
said, " If we are to be led into a trap I will see to it
that the General Sahib does not escape me."
A FULL BAG OF PRISONERS 97
I had already given orders that, the instant we
entered Kacha, the advance guard of infantry, also
the cavalry and guns, were to march straight off
to their respective barracks. This order I learned
afterwards greatly relieved the anxiety of the Sar-
hadis, who had actually talked themselves into an
honest belief of the existence of a trap. They
themselves encamped in the vicinity of the British
Political Officer's house. He himself was absent at
that date. Ample food supplies were dealt out to
them. Now that our lines of communication were
clear of the Raiders food was coming through again
For the moment all need for anxiety seemed at
On the ist of May I summoned a Durbar, to be
held, on the following day, close to the Political
Officer's house. Idu was not present, for he had
asked for leave to go to Robat on important personal
business. I suspected this important business was
a visit to one of his numerous wives, though the
rascal always disclaimed the suggestion that his
absences ever had anything to do with a woman.
The Durbar was an impressive affair. Several
bags of money were brought from the Government
Treasury by the Sarhad-dar and placed at my feet.
These were to be given to the Chiefs as rewards for
future good conduct. After delivering an address
more or less a repetition of what I had said at
Khwash as to the folly of deserting the British for
98 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
the Germans I called on the Chiefs to sign an
agreement whereby they handed their country over
to the Sirkar, and promised in future to be loyal to
the Indian Government. Further than this, and
under this agreement, they were to give timely
warning of the approach of German agents from any
As most of the Raiders could not write, their
thumb-marks were duly impressed on an imposing
looking document produced by the Sarhad-dar, and
the Chiefs swore on the Koran to abide by the
agreement. They were then handed the money
rewards promised them, Jiand receiving the largest
amount two thousand rupees.
I then announced to them that they were all free
to return to their homes, and that if ever any of
them needed a friend, or would like me to adjudicate
between them on any local quarrel, they were at
liberty to call upon me for the purpose.
They professed themselves as very grateful for
all that had been given them ; admitted they had
been treated generously, and promised, on oath, that
there should be no more trouble in the Sarhad, nor
should any German or German agent be permitted
to pass through their territories.
Thus, when they left for their homes, on the
morning of May 3rd, all parties were, apparently,
on excellent terms.
I wrote a despatch to headquarters at Simla,
giving a short account of the expedition and its
A FULL BAG OF PRISONERS 99
results, at the same time bringing forward the
names of various officers, and other ranks, for good
work done. I also mentioned the fact that I did
not know what to do in regard to the traffic in slaves.
That evening Idu returned. He came straight
to my room and told me I had acted unwisely in
disregarding his repeated warnings as to the unreli-
ability of Jiand and Halil Khan. He further added
that some of his own chosen men, who had been
scouting around and picking up all possible informa-
tion, had met him, on his return to Kacha, and had
given him the following authentic and disquieting
news. It was to the effect that, hardly had Jiand
got out of Kacha, that morning, with promises of
devotion and loyalty still hot upon his lips, than
he had halted and called a meeting of the Raider
Chiefs, urging them to repudiate their oaths, to
collect all their fighting men as quickly as possible,
attack and take Khwash, and then to turn their
attention to my force, which he now openly said he
knew to be a contemptibly small one.
This was bad news indeed. We naturally knew
that Khwash could be captured in a few minutes.
There were only five men there. We were also
quite conscious of the fact that we could be wiped
out in less than the same time if attacked in any
But the bad was leavened by the good, for the
same report told us that Juma Khan had resolutely
and absolutely refused to fall in with Jiand's plans.
100 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
He was also reported to have said that the General
Sahib had kept every promise made to them, had
spared their lives and crops when he could have
destroyed them, had treated them, from the com-
mencement of hostilities, as honourable foes, and
later as friends, and had finally given them consider-
able sums of money. He had never broken his
word, and he did not intend to begin doing so now.
Therefore, he was to be counted out of any plans of
treachery which Jiand might be meditating. Upon
which expression of opinion he had ridden off to his
own country with his following.
But, even with Juma Khan eliminated, the situa-
tion was serious enough, for I saw no chance of
obtaining reinforcements from any quarter in time
to prevent a disaster. However, it was no use
crying over spilt milk. Things must be faced as
After all, as I pointed out to Idu, Jiand could not
do the impossible. He and Halil Khan could not
collect their scattered men in a moment. The one
thing left for us to do was to set off on the morrow,
march back to Khwash, endeavour to reach it before
Jiand, and organise our defence against his coming.
I have often since been blamed for an apparent
foolhardiness in trusting the Raiders sufficiently to
let them go. But it must be remembered that I had
not come out to fight the Raiders unless events
made it absolutely necessary to do so but, rather,
to make friends with them and to keep the Germans,
A FULL BAG OF PRISONERS 101
or their agents, from coming through their country.
Moreover, the force at my disposal was very small
indeed, and quite insufficient to keep these Raiders
in check when once the bluff was called. In other
words, I should soon lose the game if I persisted
in treating them as enemies.
It must be understood, too, that the Sarhad was
only the Southern portion of my command, and
that rumours were constantly coming in that
Germans, who had failed to get through into
Afghanistan via the South, were not only moving
North towards Birjand, but were trying to cross
the border in that direction.
I knew, also, that it would soon be necessary to
move North in order to induce the Russians to
keep a more careful guard than they had been doing
in the district North of Birjand, a district within
their sphere of influence in Persia.
Nor must it be supposed that I had not quite
realised, before I let the Raiders go, that I had not
obtained all the safeguards I could have wished.
But I did not then, nor do I now, see that I had
any other alternative.
In any case I had gained one very definite
advantage. I had won over Juma Khan to our
side; and it was through his territory that the
Germans would first have to pass in order to get
through the Sarhad.
But, though Juma Khan had already given
a practical example of his determination to be loyal
102 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
to his oath, I recognised that he would be bolstered
up in his loyalty if he felt there was apparent some
show of strength on our side. The loss of Khwash
to Jiand would, therefore, be a terrible confession
Landon and the Sarhad-dar fully concurred with
me that the one and only wise plan to follow would
be to march at daybreak with all the forces we
could command, and endeavour, by a series of
forced marches, to reach and enter Khwash before
Jiand could take it.
THE RACE FOR KHWASH
Plans and routes Car versus leg's An equestrian interlude
The trap in the gorge, More digging- Rendezvous Mrs
Idu and gastronomy A reinforcement A message to
Landon Izzat's men Idu's romance A " British Bull-
dog " The car abandoned.
TIME was obviously the chief factor to be reckoned
with for any hope of ultimate success ; I wondered,
therefore, whether the car might not be utilised in
this dash back to Khwash.
Considering the nature of the ground over which
we had marched, it seemed rather a mad idea, but
Idu pounced on it.
" The very thing, Sahib," he said excitedly.
' You remember how astonished even I was when
I first saw it? How much more will it impress
Jiand's ignorant men! They will think it a new
sort of devil, and it will be more useful than a dozen
" I believe Idu is right," Landon said. " Why
don't you go in the car, whilst I take charge of the
After further details had been discussed, we
decided to adopt this plan. The car was still at
104 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
Robat, about twenty-four miles distant, with Allan
in charge. I, therefore, sent a telegram, and also
a duplicate message by a sawar on a mari camel,
telling Allan to provision the car, bring all the spare
tubes and tyres he possessed, and start early the
following morning on the track to Saindak, where,
at a spot to which the sawar would guide him, about
nine miles out of Kacha, Idu and I would meet him
Landon, who would be able to use a far more
direct route to Khwash than the car could take, was
to start with the army the same old army of seven-
teen cavalrymen, four trained infantrymen (it will
be remembered five had been left in Khwash), sixty-
five untrained men, with two mountain guns, two
machine-guns, and six hundred camels. He was to
endeavour to reach the Raiders' stronghold in seven
Six hundred camels for so small a force would
seem out of all proportion. But it must be remem-
bered that transport for provisions, and everything
else we should need for at least a full month, was
required ; that we could not depend on keeping open
any sort of lines of communication ; and that
whenever a Durbar or meeting was held, all those
attending it expected to be fed, and well fed. Our
very existence depended on an ample supply of food.
Further, the presence of so many camels helped to
uphold the game of bluff it was still necessary to
play, and a distant view of these six hundred camels
THE RACE FOR KHWASH 105
gave an appearance of numbers out of all proportion
to our real fighting strength.
Landon's route would take him by a com-
paratively short cut, though, even by this over the
western slopes of the Koh-i-taftan he could not
hope to accomplish the march in less than seven
Very early in the morning Idu and I rode off on
a couple of small ponies provided by the former, and
he assured me that it was only a very special breed
of pony that could hope to cope with the difficulties
of the nine hilly miles lying between us and the
meeting-place arranged with Allan and the car.
Idu was fully justified in his criticism of the track
we had to follow, for it grew steeper and narrower
as we proceeded, until, at last, we were negotiating
a mere cleft in the hill, with our elbows almost
touching the rocky sides.
Suddenly, my pony, who had probably been
deciding that he had had enough of it, stopped dead,
quivered all over and sat down! Idu, who was
immediately in front, turned round to see what had
happened, and his pony promptly rolled backwards
on the top of us.
I got clear as well as I could for laughing, helped
Idu who was very badly shaken to extricate
himself from the ponies, and then, between us, got
the ponies out of the crevasse into which they had
managed to jam themselves. This took some time,
and when we got them up we found the poor beasts
106 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
so frightened that we had to walk them the greater
part of the way.
At eleven o'clock, perspiring from every pore, we
reached the rendezvous arranged, and to our great
relief found Allan waiting, stolid, imperturbable,
reliable as ever, with the car in spick-and-span
order. Poor Allan little knew what he was in for.
He had, of course, seen nothing of our recent little
campaign, as he had remained at Robat during the
past few weeks. He was, therefore, quite delighted
at the prospect of a little activity.
We gave our ponies to the camel sawars who had
acted as guides to Allan, with instructions to take
them back to Kacha, so Idu and I took our places,
thankful to be in the car once more, and set off on
our journey South.
We soon passed through Saindak, and, as the
going was not quite as bad on that first day as we
had expected, we got farther than we had hoped,
reaching a halting place called Jujak, where there
was an old ruined sarai (rest-house) and a good
spring. Here we slept out in the open, and set off
early on the following morning. Idu was greatly
impressed with the powers of the car, and began to
think it could go anywhere, scale any height, and
slip through any opening, however narrow. This
was flattering to the Overland, but it led us into
future difficulties from which only great good luck
We had intended going via Mirjawa, but Idu
THE RACE FOR KHWASH 107
pointed out that there was a much shorter way
through the hills, which, he was quite certain, the
car could manage. But we were to prove once
more that the longest way round may often be the
shortest way home !
The car entered the hills by a gorge which rose
steeply to their summits, and, though we had to get
out occasionally and push, it really was astonishing
how well she took the inclines. But it was when
we descended that our troubles began, for, in doing
so, we entered another gorge which grew narrower
and narrower, till, at last, Allan stopped the car
dead, declaring that we could go no farther.
And a glance at our route did seem to show that
we had manoeuvred ourselves into a hopeless
Ahead the gorge was too narrow to allow of going
on. Behind it was so steep that the car could not
back out. On the right we were completely shut
in by the high steep sides of the gorge, on the
left it looked as impassable ; whilst it was quite
impossible to turn!
There remained nothing for it but to dig a way
out, so we set to work, and, after working till we
were wet through, managed somehow to get the car
through the wall of earth shutting us in on the left,
and out on to the open hill-side.
Idu openly expressed his disgust and disappoint-
ment with the car. He had given her credit for
being capable of doing anything and going any-
108 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
where, and this failure to pass through " the eye of
a needle " diminished his respect for her.
There was still no direct way down the hill, and
we had perforce to go many miles out of our course,
in a long hair-pin loop, to reach anything like decent
going. No one who has not attempted to take a
car over trackless hills of rough, broken surface, and
rilled with blind gorges, can have any idea of the
difficulties that confronted us here, and during the
greater part of our journey to Khwash.
By dint of ceaseless pulling and pushing, and
digging the car out again and again, we managed to
reach the rendezvous with Landon before nightfall.
He marched in a few minutes after we arrived, and
was as frankly pleased as astonished to see us. He
had just come through another section of those hills
himself. He had not, therefore, expected the car
would get through, and was wondering how on earth
I should ever rejoin him and the army. So we
all camped out in the open, grateful for the coolness
of the evening, for the heat of the day had been
Before sunrise on the following morning Landon
marched out, and, as soon as we had lost sight of
him, Idu, Allan, and myself set off in the car.
I do not propose to give a detailed account of the
remainder of our journey. One day was very like
another, and the bad surface only differed in quality
and degree. The heat was very great by day, and
the glare over the sandy wastes and hills almost
THE RACE FOR KHWASH 109
blinding. Here and there, especially in the Galugan
valley, we came across groups of human beings,
mostly of a low type of humanity, who bolted in
terror at sight of the car.
One evening we halted at a settlement of Rekis,
Idu's own tribe, and received a very warm welcome,
for one of Idu's wives was amongst his people. The
rascal always maintained that he had no interest in
women, but, nevertheless, seemed to me to be a
very good understudy to the proverbial sailor, for
he appeared to have a wife in every village and
This particular Mrs Idu was delighted at the
unexpected reunion with her husband, and did the
honours of the camp right royally. Following
accepted custom, I, first of all, bought a few sheep
from the Jugi-dwellers, and then presented these
to them so that they could prepare a feast. Mrs
Idu, a very unprepossessing-looking, but highly
amiable lady, acted as hostess, and we all squatted
round the camp fires while the meat was roasting.
Allan's face was a picture as he watched the
tribesmen cook and eat their meat. They hacked
chunks of flesh from the dead carcasses of the sheep
with the knives they always carried, spitted them on
the cleaning rods of their rifles, and roasted them
over the fire. These they ate voraciously, as though
very hungry, and, as a matter of fact, food in that
district is both scarce and monotonous. In any
case they devoured the meat whilst it was still nearly
110 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
raw. Even Idu ate his meat half-cooked, maintain-
ing that it was far more tender in such a state.
Of course, the car was a source of intense interest
and excitement. At first the tribesmen were too
afraid of it to go anywhere near it, but when they
saw it stand quite still at Allan's orders, and that it
had no bite, curiosity overcame fear, and, one by
one, they crept up and nervously touched it. At
this stage Allan sounded the Claxton, and, with
shrieks of terror, they all bolted. But Idu, who
had come over the mountains in it, and, therefore,
had lost all fear of the monster, felt a devil of a
fellow, and, with a flourish, assured them it was not
the roar inside which made it go, and that it would
do no one any harm. So they came back to it once
more, and, after some persuasion, were induced to
sound the Claxton themselves. Once familiar with
it, they laughed like children each time it barked,
and I began to wish I had taken the thing off before
After supper Idu prepared my blankets under the
shelter of a small bush, but, before turning in, I sat
down on the ground for a final smoke, placing the
hurricane lamp from the car on the hard smooth
earth in front of me.
The light naturally attracted myriads of insects
of all sorts, many of which I had never seen before,
and which are, I feel sure, unknown in India.
Beetles of many sorts swarmed around, both in the
air and on the ground, whilst a scorpion, the biggest
THE RACE FOR KHWASH 111
I have ever seen, darted out from the darkness to
inspect the light. He was a brown fellow, not an
iridescent blue, like the Burmese variety, though he
was quite as big. With his tail curled right over
his back, and sting ready to strike, he looked a for-
midable person, and it was comic to watch the haste
with which all the lesser fry scuttled out of his way,
and, though he made many attempts to secure his
supper, I did not see him succeed, so swift were his
intended victims in escaping from their dreaded
We were, as usual, up in the morning before day-
break, and en route before the rest of the camp was
astir. The going that morning proved fairly good,
the chief obstacle being huge clumps of a coarse,
rank grass, which we had to circumvent.
We had proceeded some distance when Idu, whose
eyes seemed able not only to see in the dark, but
through hills and fields of crops, suddenly exclaimed,
" I can see men in front of us. We had better halt
while I go forward and find out whether they are
friends or enemies."
We stopped the car, for we were now on the
borders of Jiand's territory, and these men might be
his followers treating us to an ambush. Idu leapt
out, and, advancing under cover with the eel-like
movements all these Raiders possess, reconnoitred
the position. Obviously all was well, for, shortly
afterwards, he sauntered back in the open and told
me that it was quite all right. The men he had seen
112 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
were Rekis, and they were now coming to speak to
Soon afterwards fifteen well-armed, powerful-look-
ing men on camels ambled up to us, and I was
grateful indeed to know they were friendlies and not
They, however, kept at a respectful distance from
the car, which was still retaining its moral effect, and
implored me, as the friend and protector of Idu and
of themselves, to go back.
" Jiand is advancing on Khwash, Sahib, with a
big lashkar," they said. " He is probably already
there, and he will kill you and your followers unless
you run away on the devil which has brought you
I expressed a hope that their information was
wrong, and that, as it was not certain that Jiand was
already in Khwash, I still hoped to get there first.
I pointed out to them that if we could only get into
Khwash we could, with their help, hold it or even
bluff Jiand into surrendering without a fight. After
a little further persuasion by Idu who told them
what wonders the car could do, and what rewards
they would gain and after considerable talk among
themselves they decided to throw in their lot with us.
' We shall want all the help they can give us with
the car," Idu whispered to me, " for the ground we
have to pass through between here and Khwash is
far worse than anything we have crossed yet."
I could imagine nothing worse than the first two
THE RACE FOR KHWASH 113
days amongst the hills. But Idu knew what he was
talking about, as we were to discover during the
next twenty-four hours.
At this point I sent one of these men back to
try and find Landon and the army. As Idu had
sketched out the best route for them to follow he
was able to tell him the exact direction in which to
go. In the interval I wrote a message to Landon
urging him to use his best speed, for it had now
developed into a race between Jiand and ourselves,
and telling him that I hoped to reach Khwash myself
before the following evening.
I of course knew that nearly everything hung upon
getting to Khwash first. If Jiand got in with his
men, he could hold it as long as he chose against
us, and vice versa. It was clear, too, that the holder
of Khwash was master of the Sarhad. Moreover,
I felt a grave responsibility for the lives of the five
Sepoys I had left there, for they would meet with
short shrift at Jiand's hands.
The message dispatched, we set off once more,
with our new cavalcade in attendance, and had gone
some twenty or twenty-five miles when Idu again
asked for a halt as he believed he saw men camped
in a little nullah straight ahead of us. Were he
correct they would be Yarmahommedzais, and so our
enemies, for we were now right in the heart of Jiand's
Allan was, therefore, directed to drive the car into
the mouth of a nullah close at hand, where the car,
114 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
and the Rekis with their camels, could be concealed,
and where we could fill up our water-bottles and the
radiator, from a small stream that trickled through it.
The banks of the nullah had been hollowed out by
the action of the water, so affording a certain amount
of shade, for which we were very grateful after the
burning heart of the open sandy plain.
After rest and a drink Idu went out to reconnoitre,
and presently returned with a glum face.
" They are Izzat's men," he said. (Izzat, it will
be remembered, had been the ringleader in the recent
raid into Persia, which had resulted in the capture of
so many women and children). " Izzat is a great
fighter, and we are in for a scrap."
" How many men has he with him? " I asked.
" About eighteen," Idu replied.
"Only eighteen?" I felt relieved. "Why,
then we are about equal in numbers, to say nothing of
the car. If they want a fight they shall have it."
Idu looked dubious. " In any case it would mean
the loss of many of my tribe, and we shall want them
all if we are to hold Khwash. Will the General
Sahib permit me to go and see if I can persuade
Izzat not to fight ? "
Knowing Idu's persuasive qualities I gave a ready
consent, but warned him to take no personal risks.
With his great knowledge of the country, and of all
the Sarhadis with their different peculiarities, he was
absolutely indispensable to me, and I have no hesita-
tion in making the admission. Furthermore, I had
THE RACE FOR KHWASH 115
conceived a very genuine affection for the man,
whose utter devotion and loyalty never swerved from
the moment he joined me.
" Have no fear, Sahib," he said with a grin.
" You know the law of our tribes. It is the one law
we never break."
Idu then went forward, and, from safe cover,
shouted out to Izzat, explaining who he was, and
asking for a safe conduct. This was instantly given.
I have said before in this narrative, and I proved
again and again, that whilst the Raiders would break
every other law and oath, even when given on the
Koran, the one law they never break is that of
hospitality. If they promise safe conduct it is
absolutely observed in letter and spirit.
Accordingly, Idu went forward boldly, quite
certain, according to the code of his enemies, that
his life was safe until he returned to his friends.
His conversation with Izzat proved a lengthy one.
Izzat was hard to convince. But, at last, and as
usual, Idu's wily tongue won the day. When he
returned it was to tell me that he had persuaded
Izzat and his men to come along with us, if not as
friends at any rate not as enemies.
He gave me a resume of the arguments he had
used. These were original, even for Idu, with
whose methods I was beginning to be familiar. The
conversation must have been something as follows:
' What are you doing here, Izzat? Your home
is a long way from here."
116 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
" I have come to fight the British General, and I
am in command of a reconnoitring party to report
to Jiand, who is advancing on Khwash."
" Do I understand you ? " said Idu. " Do you
seriously mean that you have come with the intention
of fighting the General Sahib ? "
" I do," replied Izzat.
" Then," said Idu scornfully, " all I can tell you
is that you will be wiped out in a couple of seconds.
If you fight, you will prove yourself a liar. The
General Sahib captured you and could have killed
you and all your men. Instead he treated you well,
gave you back your rifles, large sums of money, and
let you go free. Moreover, you swore on the Koran
at Kacha that you would never fight against him
again, and put your thumb-mark on the agreement.
You are a fine kind of Mahommedan to break your
oath given on the Koran. Besides, you fool, don't
you know that the General Sahib has brought a
wonderful devil with him? Come over here and
He led Izzat to a spot whence he could see the car.
" Do you see," he went on, " that queer thing
there? And do you see that the front part of it is
filled with hundreds of little holes? The General
Sahib has only to press a button and a hail of bullets
will come out of those holes, and you, and all your
men, will be killed. He is only waiting till I go
back. I have come out to try and save your lives.
If I tell him that you are going to fight he will press
THE RACE FOR KHWASH 117
the button, and there will not be one of you left.
Your only hope is to go and fall at his feet and ask
him to forgive you."
Izzat was deeply impressed, and, after consultation
with his men, told Idu that he would accept his
advice. If, therefore, he would go back and beg
the Sahib not to destroy them with his motor-car
they would follow a few minutes later and surrender !
Allan roared with laughter at Idu's explanation of
the radiator, but after a few moments grew serious.
" Do you think it's safe to let them come, sir?
They seem a pretty brutal lot; and when they find
out that Idu has been spoofing them they may attack
us, and cut our throats before we can do them much
" I know, but we'll hang on to Idu's bluff
about the radiator as long as we can. Besides, we
are nearly man to man. Remember, the one thing
to do is to show no sign of fear or doubt of them.
That impresses them more than anything."
So Allan and I remained seated in the shade of
the overhanging bank, whilst Izzat and his men came
and sat in a circle in front of us. I then proceeded
to tell Izzat, in very plain language, what I thought
His mind was still visibly working under the
impression Idu had produced, for he appeared quite
cowed in his apologies for his conduct.
After a long dressing-down I thought it advisable
to make a show of magnanimity, so promised to
118 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
forgive him on condition that he and his men came
along with me, and helped me when I needed assist-
ance with the car. I explained that, though it was
a devil, yet the sand sometimes obstructed it and
then it needed human help.
Izzat promised anything and everything I asked,
even volunteering to fight for me if I wanted him.
This latter promise, however, I utterly discounted.
It was not in the least likely that he would fight
against his own tribe, and I knew that we should
have to be perpetually on the look-out for treachery,
especially until Landon and his little force arrived.
But I had got out of Izzat, whilst still uncertain
of his fate, the information that Jiand's preparations
for the taking of Khwash had been quicker than I
had expected ; also that he was already on the march
in full force, and would surely reach Khwash the
This meant that we had not a moment to lose.
I had hoped that by arriving on the following evening
I should be in time. But now we must make a dash
for it, and, by hook or by crook, arrive by the
Evening was already approaching, but instead of
camping for the night as I had intended, and getting
by daylight through the hills lying between us and
the valley in which Khwash stood, it would now be
necessary to negotiate them by night.
Allan looked dubious when I told him of my
THE RACE FOR KHWASH 119
" I can't guarantee to get the car through, sir,"
he said. " Idu says these hills are far worse than
the hills near Ladis, and you know what a job we
had getting through them by daylight. But I'll do
And if ever a man did his best Allan did his right
nobly that night.
A whole series of hills, without any tracks over
them, intersected with nullahs, valleys rilled with
sand-drifts, and marshy tracts, had to be negotiated
in the darkness, lighted only by the stars and the
On the lower slopes we got stuck again and again
in the narrow steep-sided nullahs, and it took the
combined efforts of the Rekis, Izzat's men and a
stout rope, always carried on the car, to drag her
out. Over and over again it seemed as though we
must give up the attempt and wait for daylight. But
Allan came of the right stock. He also knew well
how vitally important for British prestige through-
out the Sarhad it was to be first in Khwash, and so
confirm our supremacy there.
So Allan stuck to his job, muttering repeatedly,
when the difficulties seemed insuperable, " I'm a
British bull-dog, sir, and I am not going to be beat."
This expression of Allan's afterwards became a
saying amongst our men when any difficulty arose.
But if Allan wasn't beaten the car very nearly was
at one point when negotiating the worst bit of ground
I have ever passed over in my life for there was no
120 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
going round it. The strata here were up-ended, and
consisted of alternate layers of shale and quartz.
Weathering had done its work more easily on the
shale, hence the quartz, which was much thinner
than the shale, projected upwards in great dagger-
like points in every direction, and over a long
Of course tyres and tubes were cut to ribbons in a
few minutes, and, as it would have been futile to
replace them, the car was literally dragged over the
ground on her rims.
As may be imagined, when we had left this awful
bit of ground behind, my poor car was in a pitiable
condition. Luckily, Allan had plenty of spare
tubes and four fresh tyres. With these adjusted,
we started again, but the ground was still so bad
that every mile or so we were badly punctured, and
tubes had to be replaced or patched. It must be
understood, too, that the heat was intense, even at
night time. I can safely say that that one night's
journey was the very worst I have ever experienced
in any part of the world.
We were all utterly exhausted long before day-
break, and, every now and again, despite our
desperate anxiety, eyelids closed and heads nodded.
As for Allan, sturdy bull-dog though he was, nature
was too strong for him.
Just as dawn broke his heavy eyelids closed for a
second as he sat at the wheel. But that second
proved fatal. The car swerved a fraction from the
THE RACE FOR KHWASH 121
course we had been following by the light of the
lamps, and, in an instant, it was over the edge of
the track and firmly embedded in a sandy nullah-bed.
A few minutes later the sun rose over the plain
below us, lighting up the walls of Khwash, a bare
five miles away.
Allan was in despair at the position of affairs and
cursed himself for his momentary relaxation. But
the damage had been done, and, as we knew by
experience how long it would take to extricate the
car, we decided to abandon it and press forward to
Khwash with all speed.
I invited myself on to Izzat's own camel, as it
looked the most comfortable ! Allan was induced to
get on to another, and Idu invited himself on to the
next best-looking animal.
I ordered Izzat to ride close beside me, for I did
not trust him for a moment, more especially since the
failure of the car, whose first impression had been so
satisfactory. And then, as fast as we could urge
the animals, we ambled on towards our " Mecca,"
with the question ever before us, " shall we be in
time or has Jiand forestalled us? "
KHWASH AND THE SECOND SURRENDER
Doubts dispelled Organisation for defence Idu's " Exiat "
And its result Jiand arrives Idu's second visit The
Sarhad-dar arrives Landon at last Jiand's visit of
ceremony The Gul-Bibi Shah Sawar's treachery We call
on the " Rose Lady " A carpet and the Sarhad-dar's
advice Another Durbar Returned loot Temporary peace.
As we approached the fort, still in doubt as to
whether Jiand occupied it or not, Allan turned round
on his camel and asked, " Which way shall we run,
sir, if we have to run? "
I laughed, though I could not help approving his
foresight. " There's no more running, Allan. If
Jiand is not in Khwash, all will be well. If he is
well, you can take it from me, the game's up.
There'll be no running for any of us."
We were now near enough to see a man standing
on the top of one of the towers. Was he one of the
men I had left, or a Yarmahommedzai ? A few
minutes later we could distinguish his uniform.
We were in time! We should be first into
Khwash after all!
In my joy I took off my helmet and waved it to
show the man I was not one of the enemy, for he
THE SECOND SURRENDER 128
might easily have mistaken us, seeing that we were
all mounted on camels. He paused a moment,
then, recognising the signal, tore down from the
tower, quitted the walls and rushed out to meet us,
nearly beside himself with excitement and relief.
" You are only just in time, Sahib," he said.
" Shah Sawar has already arrived with a large force
and is encamped close by. We have been expecting
him to attack all the morning. Come quickly into
the fort, or, even now, you may be too late."
We needed no second bidding, but, urging the
camels forward, pressed on, and were soon all
safely contained within strong mud walls.
Without a moment's delay the place was organised
for defence. This was done as well as it was
possible to do, pending the arrival of Landon with
The five infantrymen till now constituting the
garrison were put in the highest tourelle, where I
also took up my quarters. From this vantage-
point I not only had the best view of the whole
plain but could command every inch of the fort's
interior. Idu's men manned the three remaining
tourelles, whilst Izzat's band were placed, all
together, in the centre of the Square, where a
watchful eye could be kept on them. Izzat himself
I kept close by my side, for Idu, who knew him too
well to trust him a yard, advised me to keep a close
personal watch on him.
The place was now as secure as our limited
124 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
numbers could make it, and no more could be done
but await developments.
Idu, who had never left my side, now asked
permission to leave the fort for the purpose of
questioning the Khwashis outside the walls. He
also asked for some money with which to bribe them.
" A very little will open their mouths, Sahib," he
he said persuasively. " And they will surely know
all about the movements of Shah Sawar and of
As no enemy had yet appeared in sight I gave
him leave to go, and all the money I had in my
On his return he informed me that he had learned
exactly where Shah Sawar and his men were
encamped, and proposed that he should go out and
confer with him.
At first I refused point-blank. Idu could not
go on bearing a charmed life, and Shah Sawar was
a treacherous scoundrel. I pointed out that even
if Shah Sawar did not kill him he might take and
keep him prisoner, and I could not possibly do
without him. His loss would be irreparable.
Idu was obviously pleased and flattered at my
appreciation of him, but persisted that his was the
" You have seen, again and again, Sahib, that
what I have told you is always true. No Sarhadi
will break his oath of safe conduct to an enemy."
" I know," I replied. " But you have not got
THE SECOND SURRENDER 125
that promise from Shah Sawar, and without it I will
not let you go."
Idu, who had the utmost faith in his own powers
of persuasion, was not to be done. He argued that
it would be easy enough to bribe one of the
Khwashis, encamped outside, to go over to Shah
Sawar and get the necessary safe conduct.
At last, and with great reluctance, I consented,
provided Shah Sawar sent every assurance and
guarantee that there would be no treachery if Idu
went as an emissary.
In due course these assurances arrived. I had,
therefore, to keep my word to Idu, and give my
consent, though, even then, I did not trust Shah
Sawar. However, once again Idu's confidence in
that one, all-sacred law of hospitality was justified.
From my tower I watched him start, but he was
very quickly lost to view amongst the sand dunes
and fields with their tall-grown crops which lay
between the fort and Shah Sawar's camp, some three
He was away something like three hours, and I
was beginning to get desperately anxious, when, to
my great relief, I saw him ambling back on his Mari.
He was highly pleased with the success of his
mission, and gave me a full and detailed account of
his meeting with Shah Sawar. As usual he had
taken a high tone, and, on arriving at the camp, had
immediately and scornfully approached the Chief.
" So I see you are about to make a fool of your-
126 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
self again. But what do you think you are going
to do? The General Sahib is in Khwash waiting
for you! "
At first Shah Sawar refused to believe this, saying
that it was impossible to have got there from Kacha
in the time. It was evident that the Khwashi sent
as a messenger had faithfully kept the oath Idu had
exacted from him, i.e., that he would give Shah
Sawar no indication whatever of my presence, or
any reason for Idu's request for a safe conduct to
But when Idu persisted that, possible or not, I was
there with a considerable force, and that a large army
was approaching to reinforce me, and would be in
Khwash at any minute, Shah Sawar asked how on
earth it had been done. He well knew the country
lying between Kacha and Khwash, and he could
not believe the distance had been covered since he
himself had seen the General Sahib in Kacha.
Idu replied that it was nevertheless true, and that
he had come in a motor-car, also that he, Idu, had
come in it too!
' What is a motor-car? " asked Shah Sawar, " and
how could it come over the hills? "
" A motor-car," replied Idu (this is his own
account), " is an infernal machine which climbs any
hill as fast as you like. It can spread bullets in
every direction. Neither you nor anyone else has
the slightest chance if you try to fight against it."
It appears that Shah-Sawar did not know whether
THE SECOND SURRENDER 127
to believe or disbelieve Idu's strange statements,
so produced a Koran which all Sarhadis carry
concealed somewhere under their robes.
" Will you swear on the Koran that the General
Sahib is in Khwash, and that he really came over the
hills in this strange thing which you call a motor-car,
also that this motor-car is at Khwash? "
Idu grinned when he told me that he had sworn
to all these facts. " Of course I knew, Sahib, that
we had left the motor-car away up in the sandhills,
but I know how you loved it, and I guessed that
you would have sent parties of Khwashi to fetch
This is exactly what I had done under Allan's
guidance, for he had been heartbroken at the thought
of leaving the car to become derelict. She had
therefore been dragged out by the docile Khwashis,
and had only a short time before been brought
triumphantly into the fort.
' Well, is Shah Sawar coming to attack us? "
" No, Sahib. He is coming, it is true, but when
he comes, he will speak fair, he will pretend that
he never meant to fight against you, but that he
only came out with his men to do you honour! "
So in due course Shah Sawar arrived, and when
Idu brought me word that he was approaching, I
went outside the fort to meet him. I had not the
slightest desire that he should see how few men were
inside the walls, neither did I wish him to have the
128 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
chance of speech with any of Izzat's men. He was
received with all the dignity I could muster, and I
outwardly accepted his assurance that he had only
come on a friendly mission, in fact for the purpose
of doing me honour. I told him, however, that for
the present he must remain with me as my prisoner
or guest anyhow until his over-lord, Jiand, had
arrived and vouched for his permanent good conduct.
I then asked him casually when he expected Jiand
He replied that the old Chief would be outside the
walls of Khwash that evening, and that he was then
only a very few miles distant.
I then dismissed Shah Sawar under escort, and
ordered Idu to select one of his trustiest men. This
man I told to choose the swiftest camel in the place,
to set off at once, find our approaching force, and
give a letter to Major Landon. In this letter I
asked Landon to send on the cavalry at once, at
whatever time the message reached him, as they
must, without fail, be in the fort that night or early
next morning if the situation was to be saved. The
infantry and supply camels must follow as soon after
as possible without the protection of the cavalry.
These orders were sent because I knew perfectly
well that, at any moment, our true strength, or rather
our weakness, might be betrayed by some ignorant
Khwashi, or worse still, by some unsuspected traitor
within the walls. It does not need much imagination
to understand that if Jiand had got to know the truth
THE SECOND SURRENDER 129
before reinforcements could reach us, he and Shah
Sawar's men combined, would have been able to
take the fort in a very short time.
Just at nightfall, to our dismay, we learned that
Jiand himself, with a large following, had arrived in
the immediate neighbourhood, had camped close at
hand, and was preparing to attack us at once.
Once again Idu volunteered to do a conjuring
trick. It was a race now against time. If Landon
could reach us during the night we could snap our
fingers at Jiand. If he failed, well we were done.
To gain time, even a few hours, meant everything.
So having, as usual, obtained the promise of safe
conduct, Idu went out to visit Jiand, and to
endeavour once more to play the great game of bluff.
But when he returned he seemed very doubtful as
to the success of his mission. He told Jiand that I
was already in Khwash, having arrived by motor-
car, on whose supernatural powers he enlarged once
more; also that my whole army was in Khwash,
having come in motor-cars, which were quite wonder-
ful, though not so wonderful as mine (Idu's powers
of imagination were on the up grade!). Jiand was,
moreover, acquainted with the fact that Shah Sawar
had already seen the folly of attempting to fight, and
had paid me a visit of ceremony and of submission.
Idu went on to say that I had heard of his treachery,
and the fact that he was marching towards Khwash
to attack me there ; also that I was in a towering rage
about it, and was fully prepared for him. His urgent
130 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
advice to him (Jiand) was that he should present
himself at the fort at eleven o'clock the following
morning, make his profound apologies to the General
Sahib, and that, meanwhile, he would himself plead
with the General not to be too severe with the Chief
when he came to surrender!
" Do you think he'll wait till then ? " I asked.
" I don't know, Sahib," Idu replied. And for
once his cheery good spirits seemed to have deserted
him. " I am not at all sure that Jiand believed a
word I said. If he did not he will attack us to-night,
and " he stopped significantly.
We all understood. Here were we, a mere
handful of men, in that old mud fort (which meant so
much to both sides) with two large enemy camps out-
side. Either of them, if they once learned the truth,
could obliterate us in a few hours. Combined, our
chances would not be given even that amount of rope.
It was a desperately anxious night. Everything
now depended upon Landon getting my message.
If an accident, or any other untoward happening,
held up his force, or delayed it, we might reckon
that all was up. We could not hope to rely on
bluff beyond the following morning. Some of the
Khwashis would, as certain as to-morrow's sun, be
questioned by the Yarmahommedzais, and, if so, the
truth as to the fort's garrison would be dragged from
I warned the five infantrymen of the great danger
threatening us, and told them that there could be no
THE SECOND SURRENDER 131
sleep for anyone that night. Everyone must keep
his eyes skinned for any movement in the darkness
which might be the forerunner of a sudden night
I myself made no attempt to sleep, but continually
patrolled to see that every man was awake and in his
place, and that no movement or talking occurred
amongst Izzat's men.
Interminable though it seemed, the night at last
wore itself out, and, as the dawn broke, I climbed to
the top of the highest tourelle, like Sister Anne, to
see if anybody was coming.
So far not a sign of the army, which must approach
from the North. My spirits sank, and I anxiously
turned towards the East, and South-East, on which
sides Jiand's and Shah Sawar's men were encamped.
No signs of movement there, but this meant little,
for I knew that, under cover of those well-grown
crops, their men could stealthily approach, almost to
the walls, before being observed.
Once again my eyes turned to the North.
The hours went by, and with every one that passed
my anxiety grew. What had happened to Landon ?
Had he been able to make good time, or was he, as
he easily might be, if anything had gone wrong, still
a day's march away ?
Suddenly I saw a small cloud of dust stirring in
the plain to the North, and my heart bounded.
Out of the cloud of dust there presently emerged
the solitary figure of a camel with a man on his
132 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
back. The camel devoured the plain until it was
close to the walls, and I rushed down to the gate to
see who the rider might be.
It was my friend the Sarhad-dar, and I was more
touched than words can express by the manner in
which he met me, embarrassing though it was at the
moment. He flung his arms round me and embraced
me with the utmost affection, for he said that he had
not hoped to see me alive. My urgent message had
reached Landon, who was now pushing forward at
his utmost speed. They had also had numerous
confirmations of the information I had given as to
the numbers Jiand was bringing against Khwash,
and of his intention to retake and kill its defenders.
The Sarhad-dar's early arrival was explained by his
action in telling Major Landon he could not wait to
ride at the slower pace of the army, but must forge
on ahead to see whether he could do anything to
help me. The Sarhad-dar's action was one of great
bravery, for he rode quite alone through territory
which he was fully aware might have been swarming
with enemies, and who were actually only a short
distance from his path.
When he saw Shah Sawar he turned and cursed
him volubly, telling him he was an accursed liar and
traitor, and that, one day, he would see to it that he
got his full deserts.
Once again I mounted to the tourelle, and this
time the dust raised by the approaching cavalry could
be plainly seen.
THE SECOND SURRENDER 133
Idu, who was with me, looking in the opposite
direction, announced that men were moving in
Jiand's camp. But, though I have very good eye-
sight, and though I looked hard and long in the
direction indicated, I could see nothing. Idu's sight
was certainly phenomenal, but he could not tell
whether this movement foretold an attack or a
friendly visit. In any case it was v/ery lucky
that Landon's relieving force was so close at
A few minutes later Landon himself arrived with
the cavalry, hot, fagged out, and covered with sand,
but much bucked at the fact that he had arrived in
time. The camels and infantry were only a short
distance behind, for, as we knew by bitter experience,
the last stage of the route had been so bad, that,
until the plain had been reached, five miles away, the
cavalry could make no better going than the rest of
our small force ; hence the short distance separating
As a matter of fact the whole force arrived very
soon after, full of fighting spirit, despite the fact that,
for over a month, it had been continually on the
I felt we could now snap our fingers at Jiand.
As may be imagined it was a very cheery morning,
for, now that the guns had arrived, we knew that
Jiand had about as much chance of taking Khwash
as of grasping the moon. We had beaten him in
the race with only an hour or two to spare, but since
134 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
we had won, the game was up for Jiand, at any rate
for the moment and he knew it !
In due course the old ruffian, for he was not
lacking in pluck whatever he might lack in truth,
arrived to pay a ceremonial visit, which he said was
merely for the purpose of doing me honour. He
had heard, he said, that it had been represented to
the General Sahib that he had come on a warlike
mission. This rumour was quite untrue. He had
merely come, with about a hundred of his tribe, to
repeat the assurances he had already given of his
absolute loyalty to the British Raj ! As a matter of
fact he had left the bulk of his men at the camp
because he was afraid that they would be disarmed.
He then asked whether he might see the motor-
car, about which he had heard such wonderful stories.
I promptly deputed Idu the romancer as lecturer,
for no one could compete with him in a description
of its marvels.
Allan solemnly set the car in motion, and Jiand
and his men gazed at him as a sort of demi-god. So
one must be who could so control the devil in this
queer shaped thing that he could make it, without
the help of camels or horses, move across the plain
and climb the hills. Both he and the General Sahib
must surely be in close league with Sheitan !
After a while I asked Jiand if he would like to go
for a ride in it, assuring him he would enjoy it. But
he promptly replied that he would not risk it that
day. Perhaps at some other time.
THE SECOND SURRENDER 185
As a matter of fact the old Chief was utterly
unnerved at his second failure, and obviously under
the impression that his position as over-lord of the
Sarhad was once again in jeopardy.
When Jiand left I gave Shah Sawar leave to go
too, but warned him that the next time he broke his
word it would be the last chance he would get of
Towards evening Idu, who had slipped away from
the fort on secret business of his own, came up to my
quarters to tell me that when Jiand and Shah Sawar
had got back to their camp, they had received a fine
scolding from the Gul-Bibi, Shah Sawar's wife, for
whose fair sake, it will be remembered, the latter
had bartered Khwash to Mahommed- Hassan, her
nearest male relation.
And he chuckled as he went on to describe how
this imperious lady had jeered at them both, calling
them fools, and twitting them with the fact that it
was now common talk that the General had arrived
with a mere handful of men, and had simply tricked
them into surrender. Nor did she leave the matter
there. She proceeded to tell Jiand that, had he had
the heart of a mouse he could have attacked and
taken Khwash the night before, or even early that
morning, for the General's little force had not arrived
till the sun was well up.
For her part, she said all her admiration was for
the General, and she intended to send him two sheep
as a present, and as a mark of her appreciation.
136 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
" As a matter of fact," Idu concluded, " the sheep
have already arrived."
" But I can't accept presents from a people who
have been showing themselves hostile," I said.
" And how is it that a woman can have the audacity
to lecture a Chief like Jiand, whatever she may do to
her own husband? "
" You don't know the Gul-Bibi yet," Idu
grinned. " But you will. She is one of the most
influential individuals in the Sarhad, though she is a
woman. Also, she is one of the most beautiful
women in the world. And you must pardon me,
Sahib, but you must accept the sheep she has sent.
For it would be looked upon as a great insult were
you to refuse."
The Sarhad-dar concurred, saying that there was
no choice. The sheep must be accepted as a peace-
I gave in, and asked what I ought to do in return.
" Go and call upon her, Sahib," said Idu. " The
Gul-Bibi is accustomed to have honour paid to her."
" All right," I replied, and turning to Landon, who
had been present and much amused, I added,
1 You'll have to come too. I'm a married man, and
I'm not going to call on the most beautiful woman
in the world alone ; though, by the way, I suppose
she will be veiled? "
" Certainly not," Idu put in. " The Gul-Bibi
values her good looks far too highly to conceal them.
I'll let her know to-night that you and Major Landon
THE SECOND SURRENDER 137
will call upon her to-morrow in the motor-car. She
will be more pleased at that than at the gift of
That evening Landon gave me a very disconcert-
ing piece of information, particularly so in the light
of present arrangements. It was to the effect that,
on the way to Khwash, he had captured one of Shah
Sawar's men carrying letters to the Germans.
These letters had been written immediately after
Shah Sawar had been released from Kacha, and
in the face of the promises given and oaths sworn
on the Koran. In these letters he had renewed
his offers of help, and had undertaken to allow
them to pass, whenever they chose, through his
section of the Sarhad.
" The treacherous brute ! " I exclaimed. " What
on earth are we to do about him now ? I've just sent
him back to his own people, and have come to terms
with Jiand. Moreover, we have accepted the Gul-
Bibi's peace offering, and have promised to visit her
to-morrow. She seems so influential, too, that if
we make friends with her, these ruffians may really
keep their word this time."
After considerable discussion we decided to
ignore Shah Sawar's treachery for the present and
proceed as arranged.
Shah Sawar and Jiand had large numbers of their
fighting men on the spot, and Halil Khan, with a
third big force, was to be expected on the morrow.
We must, therefore, endeavour to disperse some
138 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
of these brigands to their homes before we court-
martialled that arch-villain Shah Sawar!
The following morning Landon, the Sarhad-dar,
Idu and myself, set off in the car to call upon the
Rose Lady the most beautiful woman in the world!
Half-way there Shah Sawar himself came to meet
us, and eventually conducted us to a huge jugi.
Inside this we found the famous beauty, seated on
a pile of coloured cushions. To my great surprise
I found that Idu had not exaggerated. The Gul-
Bibi really was a beautiful young woman, very fair
for a Sarhadi, with regular, clean cut, almost Grecian
features, and unusual-looking, big hazel eyes. She
was evidently small-boned, and her limbs and
hands were beautifully modelled. She was obviously
aware of her own attractions, and very animated.
Her dress was white, embroidered in Persian
colourings, and she wore a chuddah over her head,
which fell in graceful folds, without, however, in any
way concealing her face.
On our entry she rose with dignity and bowed.
Shah Sawar then proceeded to introduce us one by
one. We each bowed in turn, and, at her invitation,
sat on the ground in front of her, in a semicircle.
She then proceeded to make us a very charming
address in Persian, which Landon and I understood,
though we could neither of us speak much Persian.
This concluded, with the Sarhad-dar's help, as
interpreter, I did my best to make a suitable reply.
These preliminaries completed, a very beautiful
THE SECOND SURRENDER 180
Persian carpet was produced and offered to me by
This was very embarrassing, and I whispered to
the Sarhad-dar that I could not possibly accept it.
His reply was emphatic. " You cannot refuse it.
You must accept it as you have come here as her
" But," I persisted, " I've got to court-martial her
husband to-morrow, or the next day, and shall
probably have to shoot him. I can't take a present
from her under such circumstances."
" Shoot him, then, if you must," replied the
Sarhad-dar. " She can get plenty of husbands.
But you must accept the carpet now or you will give
dire offence. You can in any case send a money
present of equivalent value to-morrow if you like."
So I was obliged to accept the carpet with the
best grace I could, and did my best in halting
Persian to praise both the gift and the giver.
After this the interview proceeded merrily, and
the Gul-Bibi proceeded to chaff her husband quite
openly, telling him that he had been cleverly tricked
and scored off. She also told him that he was a
fool and as one without intelligence.
But Shah Sawar only laughed, taking his wife's
raillery in good part. It was obvious that she had
him very much under her thumb, and that he had a
very strong regard for her.
Altogether it resolved itself into quite a friendly
meeting, and, presently, we adjourned to inspect
140 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
the car, which, as usual, was the occasion of much
awe and wonderment. The inspection over we
invited the Gul-Bibi to go for a ride in it one day,
after which we took our leave and made our way
back to Khwash.
A day or so later Halil Khan arrived with a
following of about twenty-five men. He had left
his lashkar some miles away, for he had, of course,
heard of the surrender of both Jiand and Shah
Sawar. Immediately upon his arrival we held
another Durbar, and around the circle sat the same
old collection of warriors, with their Chiefs Jiand,
Shah Sawar, Mahommed-Hassan and Halil Khan.
Juma Khan, the only man of his word I had yet
encountered, was the one absentee.
Those who were present all solemnly swore to the
fact that they were there on an entirely friendly
mission, and that, if I had suspected otherwise, I
had been totally misinformed! They were all
sucking doves, or their equivalent, whose one desire
was to do me honour !
I played up to the game, accepted their protesta-
tions, and told them that, this being so, I had a
proposition to make. I then proceeded to suggest
that the Chiefs, each with a certain number of
followers, should remain with me, whilst the
remainder were sent back to their homes. My idea,
I said, was to raise a corps of Levies amongst the
Sarhadis. I could guarantee that their pay would
be good, and, as they were already such good fight-
THE DURBAR AT KHWASH.
Khan Bahadur (Sarhad Dar) standing.
RAIDER CHIEFS AT THE DURBAR AT KHWASH.
THE SECOND SURRENDER 141
ing men, their training light. I also promised that
many of their officers should be selected from
After a short consultation they pretended to fall
in with the idea, and several of the tribesmen
actually enlisted then and there.
But Halil Khan got up and begged me to excuse
him. He said it was not that he was not willing to
serve in any corps I might wish to raise, but that
he was very anxious about his wife and family, who
were wandering about in the Morpeish hills. He
was most eager to find them, and would look on
it as an act of grace if I would permit him to go.
As the whole scheme in view was to make their
enlistment voluntary, I had, of course, to consent.
But he was not to go without a warning, and as
he got up to leave I called him back, and looked
him straight between the eyes. " Halil Khan," I
said, with all the severity I could muster, " if you
play me false, or ever raise your hand against me
again, I will blow your head off."
He looked back at me as steadily. " Sahib, your
kindness overwhelms me. I swear by the Koran "
(drawing one from under his robes) " that I will never
fight against you again."
' Well, I will accept your word this second time.
But if you fail to keep it remember."
And so he left, under safe conduct, and shortly
afterwards Jiand, but not until I had reminded him
that I had not yet received the loot he had taken,
142 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
and which he, at our last meeting, had engaged to
hand over. I demanded its immediate return, and
laid special stress on the four tyres included in it.
I also told him that he must return, at the same time,
all Government camels seized when he had raided
the British lines of communication, and also the four
hundred Afghan camels which I had just heard his
men had seized on the caravan route from Nushki
Jiand faithfully promised that all should be
returned within a couple of days of his departure
from the neighbourhood of Khwash. This promise
he kept to the letter, for the camels and loot arrived
on the date specified.
As may be imagined, the tyres were specially
welcome. Those on the car were absolutely worn
out, and, of course, we had no possible means of
For the moment, everything seemed peaceful.
So peaceful that we settled down in Khwash for a
few quiet weeks ; but, in the interval, did our utmost
to make the place secure against all attacks.
TREACHERY AND ITS SEQUEL
Further reinforcements Entrenchments and gardens Govern-
ment inquiries Food supplies An offer to Jiand Murad
and straw Shah Sawar again Sentence Idu's sugges-
tion Re-enter the Rose Lady News of Jiand's intentions
A vital moment A round-up The Sarhad-dar's advice
A Bhusa hunt Distrustful wives.
DURING this rest in Khwash I was able to increase
to some extent the forces under my command. I
obtained a whole squadron of the 28th Light
Cavalry, under Colonel Claridge, and two machine
guns from Nasaratabad. In addition I obtained
from Kacha a considerable quantity of gun-cotton,
with fuses, etc., and a supply of barbed wire, of
which, fortunately, there were large stores at Kacha.
The men were kept busy with their musketry
training, and with the improvements that were being
made in and about the fort. We also succeeded in
creating a really creditable, and very useful, garden
outside the walls, with the help of a native gardener,
whom I had sent for from Kacha. He brought
large quantities of seeds with him, and it was amaz-
ing how, in so short a time, we were able to obtain
full-grown marrows, cucumbers, pumpkins, Indian
144 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
corn, turnips, carrots, lettuces and spinach. These
fresh vegetables formed an invaluable addition to,
and variation of, a very monotonous diet. We also
sowed a considerable amount of barley of a kind
which comes to maturity and ripens within three
The men were immensely interested in their
garden, but were still more eager to toil on the
serious work of improving our defences, and in the
building of barracks to obtain shelter from the sun.
The forces at my disposal were, at best,
infinitesimal compared with those the Raiders could
collect, though, of course, the latter were at the
great disadvantage of being minus mountain or
machine guns. But supposing as might happen at
any moment it became necessary to divide my
forces, part to go on any expedition, and part to
remain in defence of Khwash, the Raiders, if they
chose to attack in numbers, could, without question,
recapture their capital.
I decided, therefore, to blow up the surrounding
walls of the fort, as well as the three smaller
tourelles, leaving the tallest tower alone standing.
In places of these raised tourelles I made an
entrenched camp outside the site of the old walls.
Peculiar folds in the ground lent themselves well
to my purpose, enabling me to place the defensive
lines along the tops of the folds. The interior of
the work was thus well concealed from view.
The high tourelle was then improved and
TREACHERY AND ITS SEQUEL 145
strengthened, and a machine gun placed on its top
to command the whole of the camp below.
Those Raiders dwelling in the surrounding dis-
tricts took a keen interest in these changes, for they
were under the impression that we had only
demolished the existing walls with the intention of
building stronger and higher ones, and asked me
how high I intended to make them.
As I did not think it wise to gratify their curiosity,
I replied that, when finished, it might be just possible
to see the tops of them ! From this reply the rumour
got abroad that I was making a vast fortress, and,
later on, the Persian Government sent urgent
inquiries as to why I had built a great fort in Persia
without its permission. It was, in consequence,
difficult to persuade them that I had built nothing,
but, on the contrary, had blown up existing walls,
and that all that I had done in excess of this was
to dig into the ground!
Although time was passing peacefully and busily
in the organisation of these various works, I was
beginning to get very anxious about the food supply
of both men and beasts.
It was now the end of May and the heat was
intense. The camels used in the caravans bringing
supplies from India found little or no grazing
between marches, and died in their dozens on the
way, the consequence being that but little of the
supplies despatched from India ever reached us.
Our horses began to die off in alarming numbers.
146 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
The grass on the slopes of the hills surrounding
Khwash was of course quickly eaten up, and we
were reduced practically to nothing, not possessing
even straw as fodder. To make matters worse there
were still three months to wait before we could hope
to obtain straw from the barley we had sown.
Altogether the position was beginning to be of an
alarming nature, and I began to wonder whether,
though Jiand and all his men had not been able to
turn us out of Khwash, we might not be driven out
by slow starvation.
Something had to be done and done quickly. No
stone must be left unturned to save us from this
pass, and I cast about for means of feeding the
animals other than by these failing supplies from
India. It was then that I suddenly remembered
Jiand's crops at Kamalabad. When, on the first
occasion, he had surrendered there I had spared not
only the lives of himself and his followers but his
crops as well. Those crops I decided to call upon
him to share with us now.
Accordingly, in the early part of June, I sent for
him, and in a few days he obeyed the summons,
but was obviously reluctant, and very morose.
I thereupon frankly told him the position with
regard to the animals, and said that I knew he must
have vast quantities of bhusa from his crops, for the
bulk of which he could have no use, and asked him
to sell it.
The old villain refused point blank. I swallowed
TREACHERY AND ITS SEQUEL 147
my anger as best I could, and told him I would give
four times the market price for it if he would send
it at once.
But he was obstinate, and persisted in his refusal,
in spite of all my offers.
As a matter of fact I had been told repeatedly
that it was Jiand's one hope and ambition that I
would try conclusions with him in his own part of
the country, where his secret hiding places, and
defences amidst the difficult hill country, were only
known to his own tribe. Moreover, so I was also
told, Halil Khan was continually urging him to
force me to fight. Halil Khan himself was itching
to wipe out the humiliation and discredit they had
both suffered as an outcome of being bluffed twice
when they could actually have wiped us out.
Indignant as I was there was nothing to be done
but to let him go. I had promised him safe con-
duct to and fro ; I, therefore, had no alternative.
But there was still another stone that could be
turned. About five miles distant from the valley of
Kamalabad, Jiand's stronghold, lay another fertile
valley, Karsimabad, the property of an old Chief
named Murad. This old man had at one time been
the leader of the Sarhad, until Jiand had deposed
him from his leadership and assumed it himself.
Although Murad was outwardly on friendly terms
with Jiand he was not strong enough to show him-
self otherwise I had heard many hints of the old
ex-Chief's jealousy of and resentment towards Jiand.
148 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
I, therefore, sent for Murad and asked him if he
would sell his straw, telling him that Jiand had
refused to do business with me. The old fellow
assured me I could have all the straw I wanted, and
that I could have it for nothing. Of course I refused
his generosity, told him I would pay him what I
had offered Jiand, and instructed him to get it ready
as soon as possible, when I would send my camels
to bring it in.
Before Murad, who was obviously delighted with
such a good piece of business, departed he gave me
a word of warning which fully confirmed all I had
heard of Halil Khan's and Jiand's smouldering
" If they can kill you, Sahib, they will. And they
will most surely fight against you and try to kill
you before many weeks are past."
It was about this date that repeated confirmations
reached me of Shah Sawar's persistent treachery.
Up to the present I had elected to ignore the incident
of his letters to the Germans. They had never
reached their destinations, so no harm had been
done so far. It had been my constant wish, despite
all the warnings I had received, to make friends
with the Yarmahommedzais. But it was now time,
I considered, to take some notice of Shah Sawar's
activities, and this seemed a suitable moment to
charge him bluntly concerning his traffic with the
Accordingly he was summoned to appear before
TREACHERY AND ITS SEQUEL 149
a drum-head court martial consisting of myself and
two other officers, to be tried for repeated acts of
treachery, and particularly for communication with
the Germans, coupled with the information supplied
to the same quarter that I had few troops, and that,
if they (the Germans) came to the Sarhad it would
be easy for them, with his help, to overwhelm my
As usual, Shah Sawar swore he was innocent of
all these charges and pointed out that it was obvious
he could not possibly have been guilty, as he could
Then I played a trump card, for I produced the
mullah (priest) who had written the letters at his
dictation, and who had wandered, a day or so before,
into the camp.
When Shah Sawar caught sight of the mullah he
shrugged his shoulders and muttered, " Kismet."
He knew the game was up, confessed at once that
he had dictated the letters, and had put his mark
There was naturally only one sentence that could
be passed upon him, and he knew it. He was found
guilty and condemned to be shot. He implored me
to give him another chance, but I was tired of his
broken promises, and told him flatly that he had
offended once too often. He had been convicted
by a duly constituted court martial, and the finding
of the court must stand. I told him also that his
time was short, and advised him to write any fare-
150 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
well messages he wanted to send, and to make his
will as quickly as possible. The mullah was also
given leave to write anything that Shah Sawar
wished to dictate.
As I passed from the tent I gazed hard at Shah
Sawar. The sweat was pouring down his face
few men can hear the sentence of immediate death
without emotion of some sort but he did not utter
a sound. It must be admitted that he bore himself
like a man, as, with a gesture of resignation, he
told the mullah he wanted him to start writing at
Whilst he was writing out his last wishes, I made
my way to the Durbar tent to wait until he had
finished. On my way I met Idu and told him the
result of the court martial. Idu had an uncanny
gift of intuition and I am certain realised how much
I disliked my obvious but uncongenial duty. He
looked at me strangely and then disappeared.
Some little time later I was leaving the tent when
I caught sight of the Gul-Bibi, Shah Sawar's wife,
dressed in her very best attire, running towards me.
Directly she reached me, she fell on her knees and,
touching my feet with her hands, broke into?
" What is it? " I asked, trying to speak sternly.
" What have you to say ? "
The Gul-Bibi had a great deal to say ! She said
that Idu had gone to her and told her of the sentence
that had been passed on her husband and she had
TREACHERY AND ITS SEQUEL 151
come to plead for his life. She used every argument
she could think of to persuade me to reverse the
finding of the court, and finally went bail in her own
person for the future good behaviour of the hand-
some rascal, if only he might have another chance.
" I swear to you," she said passionately, " that if
ever my fool of a husband raises his hand against
you again or breaks his word to you, I will shoot
him with my own hands. I, the Gul-Bibi, swear it."
It occurred to me that after all it might be
politic to temper justice with mercy. Shah Sawar
undoubtedly had great influence and the concession
of his life might be a turning-point in the determi-
nation of his tribe to be loyal to the British cause.
I said that she had accomplished what no one else
could have done and that her eloquence had
persuaded me to grant her her husband's life.
" But this is the very last time I will show him
any mercy. Shah Sawar has proved himself a
traitor and has broken his oath again and again. I
am only letting him go now on your guarantee of his
good behaviour in the future. If ever he breaks
faith again, it will be for the very last time. You
may go now and tell him what I have said and tell
him that he owes his life entirely to you."
I directed her to the tent where she would find
Shah Sawar waiting for death, and presently she
returned with her husband by her side. He was
obviously very subdued and very impressed. His
gratitude was genuine enough, anyhow for the
152 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
moment, and once more he promised that he would
never fight again etc., etc.
The next day a message was received from Murad
to the effect that he had collected a fine quantity of
bhusa, and that it was piled up in fourteen great
stacks ready for transport, if camels could be sent
to fetch it.
Word was sent back that I would go myself on
the morrow to Karsimabad with the camels, and a
small escort, in order that it might be possible to
thank and pay him in person.
Accordingly orders were given for the escort and
camels to be ready to start early the next morning.
But, that night, news was brought by one of
Landon's intelligence men which caused a modifi-
cation of these plans.
It should here be mentioned that Major Landon
had, shortly before, been obliged to leave me. It
will be remembered that he was one of but three
Intelligence Officers in Persia, and had therefore to
return to his duties. His place as my Brigade
Major had been taken by a very able Staff Officer,
Major Sanders of the 36th Sikhs.
The news the scout brought me was to the effect
that Jiand knew all about my proposed visit to
Karsimabad, and was planning to attack in force, and
capture me. He had been waiting for a good
opportunity to lure me out of Khwash, and now
felt he had his chance.
" Well, he shall have it," I replied. " Only,' we
TREACHERY AND ITS SEQUEL 153
will disappoint him. For instead of going with only a
small escort, we'll take a good part of our entire army,
and the guns. He'll then have his work cut out."
The consequence being that when we marched
out on the following morning we made an imposing
spectacle. I determined to do the thing thoroughly,
so took a considerable number of infantry, the
cavalry, guns and a large convoy of camels.
We had only marched a short distance when one
of the scouts came in with the information that all
the bhusa at Karsimabad had been burned.
At first I could hardly believe my ears and told
him he must be mistaken; that perhaps some of it
had been burned by accident, but that fourteen
stacks, the number Murad had mentioned as
collected, could not all have been burned by this
means. But the man proceeded to tell me that it was
no accident. He himself had seen the scorched
ground upon which the stacks had stood. They
had been built sufficiently far apart to make it
impossible to be burned by one setting light to
another. Each stack had been separately and
individually fired, and Murad had proof that it had
been done by Jiand's men.
As may be imagined, I was nearly beside myself
with rage at the news. It would entail untold
suffering amongst our unfortunate beasts, who were
already underfed. The act was unforgivable,
especially when we were just hoping to obtain a
safeguard against the worst months of the year.
154 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
The march of the column was immediately
quickened. There remained but one thing to do
to go forward and ascertain the truth. If Jiand had
really been guilty of this act he should be accom-
modated as regards fighting. So far everything
possible had been done to create friendly relations
with Him, and over and above this he had been,
throughout, generously and leniently treated. But
patience has its limits, and there could be no more
Despite the burning heat we managed to cover
the distance in record time, and were within
five miles of Karsimabad when the advance
guard reported the enemy in sight, and in large
" Come out to capture me, I suppose! " I
remarked to Sanders. " Jiand i's, probably, still
under the impression that we are coming with only
a small escort. I wonder what he'll do when he sees
the column and the guns ? "
What he did do we were soon to know. The old
villain must have indulged in one short look to
realise, once again, that he had been foiled in his
attempt at a surprise ; for I knew, by current rumour,
that he stood in deadly terror of what the guns could
do. He had certainly never seen them working,
but had heard the rattle of the Maxims at Koh-i-
taftan, and had a wholesome dread of their destructive
possibilities. When, therefore, the cavalry and the
guns came into view, instead of attacking, he sent
TREACHERY AND ITS SEQUEL 155
a messenger ahead to meet me, and to ask whether
he might come and do me honour !
" Tell him," I replied, still furiously angry, " that
it is not a case of may he come he must come
himself and instantly. I am in no playful mood as
he will find to his cost."
A few minutes later we saw Jiand, accompanied
by two or three men ambling towards us on his camel.
Immediately on his arrival Jiand assured me that,
hearing I was in the neighbourhood, he had come
with his followers to do me honour.
" Honour be damned ! " I retorted. " What do
you mean by burning the bhusa I have bought from
Murad? Was that also by way of doing me
Jiand protested his innocence. Was it possible
that anything that belonged to the General Sahib
should, or could, be burned? And how could he
(the General) so wrong him (Jiand) as to suspect him
of any such offence? If the bhusa really was
burned, he swore that he was innocent, and had had
nothing to do with it.
" We'll soon prove whether you had or not," I
returned. " I am on my way to Karsimabad to
inquire into it. You will go there too, and if I
find you had a hand in it, as I am convinced you
had, you shall regret it to your dying day. Go on
in front of me, and wait for me in Karsimabad."
With a sullen face Jiand obeyed, and our own
force continued its march.
156 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
Arrived within three-quarters of a mile of Murad's
place we halted at what appeared to be a favourable
place to camp. This represented a hard flat piece
of ground at the base of a small hill. A picket on
the hill-top would command the surrounding country
and so prevent surprise.
The bulk of the force was left and I went forward
with an escort of about a dozen infantrymen and
some fifteen cavalrymen.
At the entrance to Karsimabad I noticed a huge
tree with a mud platform placed round its base, close
beside the ruins of a small fort. This seemed to
offer an ideal spot upon which to hold the inquiry,
for the tree afforded a wide circle of shade from
the burning heat.
Accordingly I sat down, with Sanders and the
Sarhad-dar on either side, whilst the cavalry accom-
panying us dismounted and remained behind the
tree. The infantry-escort formed up on our right.
Murad, who appeared greatly distressed, came
forward and told me that all the bhusa he had
collected for us had been burned down, thus
confirming the report I had already received.
" Who did it? " I thundered. " Can you produce
the man who dared to burn my property? "
To my great surprise Murad said he could. He
had captured the man, a Yarmahommedzai.
Scarcely had the man been brought forward when,
from every quarter, appeared men armed with rifles.
A moment before the place, excepting for ourselves,
TREACHERY AND ITS SEQUEL 157
had been empty. These men seemed to have sprung
out of the ground, but must, actually, have been
concealed in the adjoining fields. In an instant I
could tell that they were picked men of Jiand's
lashkar. There must have been between one
hundred and fifty and two hundred of them. They
came forward and squatted down in a circle close in
front of us ; Jiand, and his kinsman and evil genius,
a man named Nur-Mahommed, placing themselves
well in the foreground.
In a flash I realised the tactical error I had made
in leaving the main force three-quarters of a mile
away, and before I had made certain that Jiand's
men had not occupied Karsimabad. These men
held their magazine rifles, which were always loaded,
across their knees. From where we sat, I now
realised, and too late, that I could not see, or signal
to, my own small force, and that, except by a miracle,
it would be equally ignorant of these proceedings.
I glanced quickly behind me at the fifteen or sixteen
cavalrymen I had brought, saw that they had dis-
mounted and were holding their lances in their
hands, whilst their rifles remained in the buckets on
the off-sides of the horses. A bad position for
getting at them when dismounted and at a moment's
It was obvious that I had allowed myself to be
caught in a trap. We all knew it, though not one
man with me showed it by the quiver of an eyelid.
I turned to the man whom Murad had brought
158 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
forward and placed before me as the burner of the
stacks of straw.
" How dare you burn my bhusa? What reason
had you for doing it, and who told you to do it ? "
Before the man, who was trembling like a leaf,
had time to answer, Nur-Mahommed sprang up and
" The country is ours and everything in it. We
will burn the bhusa, or burn anything we like."
And he glared at Sanders and myself in a way that
left no doubt as to his meaning.
I told him angrily to sit down, as I was not
talking to him. For answer he assumed a threaten-
ing attitude, and openly sneered at me for attempting
to give orders I could not enforce.
I ordered a sepoy to arrest him.
What followed all happened in a flash.
The sepoy had scarcely moved a step to obey
when every one of Jiand's men leapt to their feet and
brought their rifles to the present.
I must confess to having acted automatically.
Indeed, there was no time to think or do otherwise.
I literally roared at them. " How dare you, you
dogs ? Sit down this instant ! "
I reached out my hands towards Jiand who was
close to me, and, in a paroxysm of rage, forced him
down by my side.
" Sit down ! " I roared again into the dark faces of
the men surrounding us.
Hesitation and doubt spread amongst that
TREACHERY AND ITS SEQUEL 159
threatening crowd and the bulk of them sat
They were now given no time to recover their
poise. Sanders and the escort were at once ordered
to disarm the men who remained standing.
Like a flash my men darted forward, only too
thankful to take action instead of waiting to be shot
down, and in a twinkling had wrenched their rifles
from the scowling brutes who were hesitating as to
whether they would shoot first or submit. They
were looking to their Chief for a lead. But Jiand,
that once invincible warrior, had lost his nerve, and
now sat cowering, unable either to make a decision
or dominate his own men.
So, whilst they stood, furtive and undecided, they
were disarmed and left helpless.
" Now," I shouted, turning to those who had sat
down, " get up and place your rifles against that
wall, there," pointing to the wall of the mud fort.
" And if there is the slightest sign of treachery I will
shoot you down like the dogs you are."
Like a lot of beaten sheep they got up and
The danger was over before we had had time
fully to realise it.
I then proceeded to tell the Raiders what I
thought of them in language which has since been
reported as hectic. They were told that their lives
and their property had been spared again and again ;
that over and over again their liberty had been given
160 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
them when they should have been kept as prisoners.
But this time their offence was beyond forgiveness
and they should now have a taste of the treatment
I then ordered my escort to seize and tie the men
together, and drive them back to the camp. A
certain number of the Yarmahommedzais leapt up at
this, and, before they could be stopped, had bolted
into the high-grown crops surrounding the place.
But we caught a good sixty of them, and these were
bound by their hands in groups of three by their
turbans. They were then marched off to the main
column, which had remained in blissful ignorance of
these happenings a short three-quarters of a mile
Sanders and I remained where we were, and a few
minutes later the Sarhad-dar returned, wiping the
sweat from his face.
1 That was a close shave, Sahib," he said, and I
could see that his hands were shaking, despite the
fact that he had behaved with the utmost bravery
during the crisis. " Though so many got away,
amongst those we have captured are nearly all the
leading men of the Yarmahommedzais. Without
them the tribe will be as men without leaders, and
we need not fear them. I have searched and
questioned some of them, and I have indisputable
proofs that they came to capture you. They wanted
you alive, not dead, that they might be able to
dictate their own terms."
TREACHERY AND ITS SEQUEL 161
" Well," I said disgustedly, " I've had enough in
the way of trying to make friends with them. I know
that both you and Idu have advised all along that it
would be of no use, but I have hoped against hope.
Now the Indian Government must deal with them,
and I shall advise the Government that the best
thing to do will be to send them to India and imprison
The Sarhad-dar replied, with heartfelt relief, " I
am thankful you have at last come to that decision.
It's the only chance of obtaining peace in the Sarhad.
Juma Khan has already given ample proof of his
loyalty, and Halil Khan, untrustworthy as he is,
would never dream of fighting the Sirkar alone. If
I may advise I would suggest that whoever is
ultimately set free Nur-Mahommed is never liber-
ated. He is Jiand's evil genius. Without him you
might have won over Jiand to real loyalty, but so
long as Nur-Mahommed, who is a devil, is always
whispering in his ear you can never trust Jiand to
keep any oath."
Before we left Karsimabad I paid Murad some
compensation for his straw, for he had had the best
When we reached the main column, which was
now agog with curiosity, I once again combed out
our prisoners, retaining some forty-three and letting
the others go. It must be remembered that we were
desperately short of food ourselves and I did not
want a single unnecessary mouth to feed.
162 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
But I was not going back to Khwash without a
supply of fodder for our animals. I, therefore, told
Jiand that as he had burned the bhusa I had bought,
and had refused his own at the generous price
offered, I should now take his without payment.
So we made a detour by way of Kamalabad, where
my men immediately started hunting for straw and
wheat. We eventually found that the latter had
been carefully hidden by Jiand, and in a highly
ingenious way. The wheat had been put into sacks,
and buried in the sand dunes. The sand had then
been carefully smoothed over, leaving nothing to
show that it had been disturbed.
But, before our search, I asked the Sarhad-dar,
" How on earth will the men find the sacks ? " fearful
lest, after all, Jiand had foiled me.
" They know how to find it," he replied. " Give
them the order to search for it and you'll see what
they'll do. They know the trick well enough."
Accordingly, orders were issued to search for,
and carry off, all the sacks of wheat and all bhusa
that could be found.
In an instant they were at work amongst the sand
dunes, prodding in the sand with their cleaning rods.
Every now and again a man would shout " Here ! "
and after a few minutes' digging a sack would be
dragged to light.
It was immensely interesting to watch this unearth-
ing of plunder, and after a while I called " Give me
a cleaning rod and let me try."
TREACHERY AND ITS SEQUEL 163
But I proved a hopeless exponent of the game.
Prod as I would, I could find nothing, though
the smiling Rekis would prod where I had drawn
blank and fish out several sacks. This wheat was a
great find, and was loaded on to the camels with the
From Kamalabad I sent a couple of men ahead
with messages to Colonel Claridge who had
remained behind in charge of Khwash telling him
briefly what had happened, and asking him to
prepare a barbed wire cage for the prisoners now
being brought in.
So promptly did he set to work that, when
we m-arched in next day, there was ready as perfect
a cage as any commander could wish to have.
We were given a great reception by the garrison,
delighted at the plunder we had brought. The
bhusa meant the saving of our animals, and the
wheat was invaluable to ourselves, as our supply of
flour had begun to run very short.
The wheat was given to the ladies of Khwash to
grind outside the camp. These industrious females
all possessed little stone hand-mills, and, for many
days afterwards, the air was filled with the sound of
these at work. These same ladies implored me to
pay them in person for their work, because, they
informed me, their men-folk were not to be trusted.
It appeared on inquiry that when the men were paid
they were apt to put the wages of their wives' labour
into their own pockets. So, each afternoon, for some
164 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
days, we had a pay-parade of Khwashi ladies to
receive in rupees the wages they had honestly
While I was waiting for Government instructions
as to the disposal of our Yarmahommedzai prisoners
I made these work at strengthening the camp. It
was not easy to get much work out of them as they
strongly resented being put to what they considered
to be a degradation. They maintained it to be a
gross indignity for a fighting man to be made to
work with his hands, and contended that all manual
labour should be performed by lower caste people
such as the Khwashis.
But honest work did not hurt them, for, during
their imprisonment, their health improved to a
remarkable extent. This result was probably due to
the increased variety of their rations, and to the
vegetables grown in our new garden which they
shared with the garrison.
FAILURE AND FRESH PLANS
Slave buying A diet discovery Poetic justice Disposition of
prisoners Incredible news The Sawar's story Disposal
of forces The march to Kamalabad Jiand grains his
freedom Retreat to Khwash.
WHILST waiting instructions from the Indian Govern-
ment as to the disposal of our Sarhadi prisoners I
turned my attention to the slave question. This
had long been one of my pre-occupations. The
chief trouble lay in the fact that not only the
Yarmahommedzais and the Gamshadzais, but also
the friendly Rekis the men of Idu's tribe-
possessed large numbers of these unfortunate
women and children. The consequence was that,
when I announced that an order was about to be
issued commanding the surrender of all slaves
throughout the Sarhad, Idu openly groused.
He pointed out that it would be a great hardship
on his fellow- tribesmen. Many of them had not
actually engaged in raids, but had honourably
bought, and paid for, the women from their captors,
and that, in consequence, they would not only be
out of pocket to the extent of the purchase price
but would, also, be without servants to do their
166 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
Idu's point of view was clear enough, but he was
asked, " what about the unfortunate slaves ? "
The Sarhad-dar backed me up for all he was
worth, and at last a compromise was made. The
order went forth that the slaves must all be liberated
without question, but that, as the Rekis had aided us
in every possible way, the Government would
purchase their slaves at the rate of three hundred
rupees for a woman, seventy-five for a girl, and
twenty-five for a boy.
In due course slaves began to arrive from every
direction, though undoubtedly the order was ignored
in every instance where it was possible to do so. At
last, in order to accelerate delivery, it was necessary
to promise to purchase all slaves, no matter by whom
owned. From that moment it was astonishing how
the number increased, some arriving on camels,
others on foot. The condition of these wretched
women and children was pitiable in the extreme.
Some of them were those whom Izzat had captured
during his recent big raid, but the majority had been
in captivity for many years and were in a wretched
state, half-starved, half-naked, and cowed, as the
outcome of evident ill-treatment. Many appeared
to have lost all hope in life.
These poor folk were given quarters amongst the
Khwashis, special jugis being set aside for them, and
were gradually restored to some semblance of
civilised humanity. White army drill and brightly
coloured prints, were requisitioned from Kacha.
RAIDED SLAVES ON THE WAY TO THEIR HOMES.
A PERSIAN GIRL CAFTURED BY JUMA KHAN, AND WHO ESCAPE]) TO KHWASH.
FAILURE AND FRESH PLANS 167
With these materials the Khwashi ladies made
garments for our enfranchised slaves. It was pitiful
to see their joy and gratitude when told that they
were now free, and would shortly be sent back to
their own homes.
One of our new guests became a constant source
of wonder to us all. She was a fine, well-grown,
attractive young woman of about nineteen or twenty,
and had been a captive in the hands of a Gamshadzai
Chief. When she heard of the order that all slaves
were to be released she claimed her freedom, and
her right to go to the British General at Khwash,
where safe asylum was offered to all Persian slaves.
Her Gamshadzai master, however, had not the
slightest intention of letting her go. She was far too
But this Persian girl possessed both grit and
powers of endurance. One night she escaped in the
darkness, and, though pursued for a long distance
by her captor, managed to elude him., and made good
her escape. Apparently she ran all through the
night, covering fully forty miles over rough precipi-
tous hills and sandy plains. It seemed an incredible
feat at first none of us believed the tale but she
provided such striking evidence of it that we had at
last to believe her.
Poor soul, she was very dirty, her feet were bare
and her clothing torn to ribbpns, but in her pride and
joy at being free once more, she was a moving
168 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
The emaciated condition of these slaves filled us
all with commiseration, and when it was commented
upon amongst ourselves the Sarhad-dar remarked
grimly, " You can't have seen their staple food. If
you had, you wouldn't wonder. They carry it in
those little bags they all bring in with them."
My curiosity was aroused and I asked some of the
women to show me what was contained in those bags.
They promptly told me that they contained the only
food they were allowed by their captors, apart from
any green stuff they were themselves able to gather
wild on the hillsides. Some of the bags were then
emptied, and quantities of dried beetles were poured
out on the ground.
Incredible as it seems close inquiry confirmed their
statement that these dried beetles formed the
greater part of their diet. With this evidence one
could no longer wonder that these poor creatures
were in such a wretched, cowed and hopeless
When as many slaves were collected as could be
accommodated it became needful to send them off in
order to make room for others, and also to obviate
the necessity of feeding them. Moreover, now that
this batch had begun to regain its humanity, its
members were very anxious to return to their own
homes, and when it was announced that we were
going to repatriate them under escort they fell to
laughing and crying with joy. When they were told
that this would be done under the charge of Izzat
FAILURE AND FRESH PLANS 169
the Yarmahommedzai who had captured so many of
them their joy was turned to dismay, and they
implored me not to trust them to his tender mercies,
but to send them with anyone else, for he would
surely take them back again into captivity.
" I have decided on Izzat," I replied, " because he
is a Chief who has plenty of camels of his own for
your transport, and, as he stole so many of you, he
will know exactly where to return you. But you
shall hear yourselves what I am going to say to him.
If, then, you are not satisfied, I will choose someone
else. You shall decide for yourselves."
Accordingly Izzat was sent for, and informed of
this order. I considered it a piece of poetic justice
that he should be the one to restore the people whom
he had stolen, and whose lives he had ruined. Izzat
listened grimly and I fancied I could detect in his
dark eyes a hint of what he proposed doing when
these women were once again in his power.
" And," I added quietly, " you will bring back and
place in my hands a letter from every one of the
women I put in your care. I have the names of all
of them written down. These letters must be written
individually by each woman after she has safely
reached her own home, and must also state that she
has been well used on the way. If there is lacking
a letter from any single one of these women, when
you return to Khwash, I shall hang every member
of your family on the tree under which I am now
sitting, and you will then be able to count their dead
170 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
bodies for yourself. They will remain in my charge
during your absence."
Izzat could see that I meant what I said. " Sahib,
I am in your hands. I will do whatever you say."
I then turned to the eager Persian women.
" You have heard what has been said. You have
listened to the conditions made, and which Izzat has
accepted. Are you willing now to go with him? "
They all assured me they were, and a day or so
later the cavalcade set out, Izzat taking sufficient
camels to allow for the accommodation of all who
were infirm and weak, and for the fitter members to
be able to ride turn and turn about, also for the
portage of sufficient food for their long trek of some
one hundred and fifty miles into the Narmashir.
As may be imagined it was a great relief to us all
when we had seen them safely on their way. I
should here record the fact that, in due course, Izzat
returned, bearing letters from every one of the slaves
to the effect that they had safely arrived at their
own homes. He dared not risk the penalty he knew
would have surely been exacted had he failed in his
After some little delay I received from Quetta an
answer to my request for instructions as to the dis-
posal of the Sarhadi prisoners. This answer directed
that they should be sent straight to Quetta, a distance
of something like four hundred and fifty miles.
Naturally I had not sufficient troops to spare for
an adequate escort on such a long march, and sent
FAILURE AND FRESH PLANS 171
an answer to that effect ; but, at the same time, sug-
gested that if the Government could arrange for
escort, by Indian troops from Saindak (about nine
marches from- Khwash), I could arrange to police
them that distance.
After waiting another two weeks, word came that
three hundred of the io6th Hazara Pioneers would
be sent to Saindak to take them over, and I was
requested to send the prisoners there, under escort,
without delay. I was also informed that a wireless
troop was immediately being dispatched to Khwash,
the purpose being to open up easier communication
with India. At this period the only method of such
communication was by wire from Robat, or Kacha,
to Quetta, and camel messengers had then to be
employed to take messages from Robat, or Kacha,
to Khwash, a not always reliable, and often lengthy,
Accordingly, when I knew the exact date of the
Hazaras' arrival at Saindak, I made my own disposi-
tions for sending the Sarhadi prisoners there. It
should be clearly understood that the whole of the
rough, roadless district lying between these two
places was over-run by the enemy, and, moreover, an
enemy deeply resentful of the fact that so many of
their Chiefs were in our hands. It must be remem-
bered, too, that our numbers were, compared with
theirs, ludicrously small.
We calculated, however, and reasonably I think,
on the unlikelihood of an attack by the Yarmahom-
172 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARI^AD
medzais on the column, owing to the presence of
the more important prisoners, whose lives they would
not dare to endanger. It was, therefore, thought
absolutely safe for the wireless troop, who would be
accompanied by a small escort only, to come through
to us at the same time as, and on a parallel route to,
that of the prisoners, though the two parties were
marching in opposite directions. The wireless troop
had orders to come South along the Eastern slopes
of the Koh-i-taftan, and the prisoners were to be
marched North over the Western slopes of the same
I decided also to send as large an escort as possible
with the prisoners, my object being to ensure against
any contretemps prior to their receipt by the Hazaras
a magnificent type of fighting man for conduct
to India. I also had another reason, for I had been
warned, by repeated rumour, that Halil Khan was
then occupied in gathering his entire forces together
for the rescue of Jiand and his men whilst being
marched northward to Saindak.
Our own garrison was, therefore, practically
reduced to a skeleton, whilst a force consisting of
three troops of cavalry, seventy-five infantry( about
three-fourths of our total numbers) and two maxims,
under the command of two white officers, was
detached for escort duties.
This column started early one morning in July,
and was to march eighteen miles on the first day.
That same night, or rather early on the following
FAILURE AND FRESH PLANS 173
morning, for it was about two a.m., I was awakened
in my tent and informed that a sawar had just arrived
with an urgent message for me. A moment later one
of the cavalrymen composing the escort, which had
started so gaily about twenty hours before, came in,
breathing quickly and heavily with the speed at
which he had ridden. He told me that he had ridden
as he had never ridden before to bring me a message
from the officer commanding the prisoners' escort.
It was to the effect that every one of the prisoners,
save Jiand and one of his sons, had escaped in the
darkness, and that he awaited further orders in the
For a moment I thought I was still asleep and
dreaming. How could it be possible that forty-
five unarmed men had succeeded in escaping from
an armed, and numerically larger, escort?
But the stark truth was at last forced upon me, and
it amounted to nothing short of absolute disaster.
The whole of my four months' work had been
undone in a few hours, and I was confronted with
the knowledge that I should now have to make a
humiliating confession of utter failure, and at the
very moment when the work I had been sent to do
seemed so nearly and successfully finished.
The situation resolved itself into this; not only
would it now be impossible to hand over our enemy
and ringleaders to the large armed escort now on its
way, and especially detailed to receive them, but
these escaped Chiefs would be able to reorganise and
174 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
hearten up their people, who had remained quiet
during the past few weeks simply because they had
been without their leadership.
These same Chiefs, of course, knew to a man the
strength of our force, and were naturally bitter with
resentment as an outcome of their recent captivity.
They would, I knew, now leave no stone unturned
in their endeavour to wipe us out. My feelings can
be better imagined than described.
The Sawar was questioned closely as to this
disastrous affair, and I obtained the following details.
The escort had pitched its camp before sundown
on an open hillside. An enclosure, or sort of rough
zareba, had been constructed with a few strands of
barbed wire, and the prisoners, with the exception
of Jiand and his son, had been placed inside, and
sentries set over them. Jiand and his son had been
kept apart, in a small fugi, with a sentry in front
It was a very dark, quiet night, and the camp had
soon settled down to sleep.
Suddenly, strange stealthy sounds had been heard
close to the zareba, and the sentries had fired wildly
into the darkness. Instantly the whole camp had
been roused, and the officers had rushed to the
Lamps were brought, and it was quickly found
that the zareba was empty. What had happened
seemed fairly obvious. The prisoners had evidently
taken off all their clothes and flung the heavier
FAILURE AND FRESH PLANS 175
garments over the barbed wire. This done, and
acting in consort, they had broken or borne it down
by sheer weight. In any case the whole lot of them
had escaped, absolutely naked, leaving their clothes
behind on the barbed wire !
Of course an immediate search was instituted, but
the Raiders had escaped into the rough, broken hills
during the few minutes succeeding the alarm, and not
a single one was re-taken. The only prisoners now
left in our hands were Jiand and his son.
After such a set-back a man may be pardoned for
being at his wits' end. Not only did it spell failure
to keep faith with the Indian Government in regard
to the prisoners, but it became plain that the wireless
troop, whose safe passage I had practically
guaranteed, was now in peril ; for they would, almost
certainly, be attacked, as they must by this time be
right in the heart of the enemy territory, whose fight-
ing men would now be elated beyond bounds at
their successful coup.
I quickly realised that we must act without an
instant's delay. We must first rescue that wireless
troop with its small escort at any cost. The best
thing to be done at the moment was to order the
prisoners' escort who now had no one to escort!
except Jiand and his son to proceed instantly in the
direction along which the wireless troop was coming,
whilst Sanders and myself, with every man we could
collect after leaving some sort of garrison for Khwash
goodness knows we were few enough already!
176 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
set out to join up with the escort, which would have
to march due East that day. ,
I could then take some of the men forming that
escort and go in the direction of Kamalabad with the
object of holding off the Gamshadzais under Halil
Khan ; I was convinced they would now, without
question, put into execution the threat they had so
repeatedly made of trying to rescue Jiand. As will
be seen my objective was the Kamalabad valley,
where I should at least have a better chance of hold-
ing them up than elsewhere.
The messenger was thereupon directed to return
at once to the officer commanding the escort, with
a letter directing the new move and telling him at
what point I would intersect his march that evening.
As soon as he had been dispatched a servant was
sent to awaken Sanders, Idu and the Sarhad-dar,
and summon them immediately to my tent. When
they were told the bad news their dismay was fully
equal to mine. The Sarhad-dar seemed to think the
world had come to an end. The situation was in
any case quite black enough, and it was a very
depressed little party that an hour later set out from
It was not until well on into the evening that the
force composing the prisoners' escort joined us at
the appointed rendezvous, but when it did I pro-
ceeded to re-arrange the composition of units with-
out delay. I took twenty-five cavalry, some fifty of
the infantry, also the two machine guns, and ordered
FAILURE AND FRESH PLANS 177
the officer commanding, who was desperately down-
cast at the disaster, to march at top speed with the
force left him in the direction along which the wireless
troop must now be coming. His further orders, on
getting in touch, were to tell them what had
happened, and, as I did not now consider it safe for
them to come at present to Khwash, to go back with
him to Saindak, where he was to hand over Jiand
and his son to the Hazaras now waiting to receive
He was further instructed to say that I was march-
ing in another direction, towards Kamalabad, in an
endeavour to hold up Halil Khan and the Gamshad-
zais, who, according to rumours reaching us that
evening, were on their way in great force to Gusht,
at the end of the Kamalabad valley.
My little force started then and there, marching a
distance of about twelve miles through the night,
and reached Kamalabad before daybreak. It must
be remembered that campaigning under conditions
obtaining in a district such as the Sarhad is utterly
different from that of any other type of warfare.
Amongst my own little force, and especially
amongst the camp followers, were both friends and
potential foes, traitors and spies. In addition to this
the whole population of the country was its fighting
force, nearly every man being armed and trained to
fight. Rumour, and news carried by runners, take the
place of the dispatches and newspapers of the West,
the consequence being that one's movements are
178 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
conveyed from mouth to mouth immediately upon
that movement taking place. This fact will in itself
account for our being able to hear such constant and
detailed news of both the enemy's movements and
intentions and vice versa.
No sooner had we reached Kamalabad than we
learned that Halil Khan had just been there, but had
taken to the Morpeish Hills as we approached. He
had every intention of fighting, but wanted to do it
on ground of his own choice. In any case he did
not want to fight in the open, where our Maxim
guns would undoubtedly have given us a great
It was a great relief to hear this, for it meant
that we had intercepted him, and now stood between
him and the escort with Jiand. It meant in effect
that he could not attack it without first meeting and
defeating us. Jiand and his son at any rate and,
after all, Jiand was the supreme Chief would now
be safely handed over at Saindak.
But my satisfaction on this point was very short
lived. Soon after reaching Kamalabad another
messenger, sent off post-haste by the officer in charge
of the escort, arrived with the news that they had
been attacked in force, and that Jiand and his son
had been rescued !
I questioned the man closely as to what had
happened, and discovered that Jiand and his son had
been actually snatched from the very hands of their
gaolers. The fight had been a long and hard one ;
FAILURE AND FRESH PLANS 179
many men on our side had been killed, both the
British officers wounded, and many rifles and much
ammunition captured. It seemed that the whole
force might have been annihilated but for the oppor-
tune arrival on the scene of the wireless troop with
their escort. The Yarmahommedzais evidently
thought this troop the advance guard of reinforce-
ments and retired, taking Jiand and his son with
I learned later that the rescue party consisted of
nineteen of the very men who had escaped from the
prisoners' escort two nights before. It appears that
they had run all the way to Kamalabad naked, had
clothed and re-armed themselves, and had gone back
to rescue their Chief.
One could not but admire such a magnificent feat
of daring and endurance, even though it added
enormously to the difficulties of our own position.
The Gamshadzais, in all probability, already knew
what had happened. They would also know that I
had brought only a very small detachment to
Kamalabad, that merely a beaten remnant of the
escort, now without British officers, was left on the
slopes of the Koh-i-taftan, and that there was a still
smaller force in Khwash.
It was obviously hopeless now to attempt to fight
where we were. It was equally obvious that our
best course would be to get back to Khwash with all
speed. Khwash still remained a dominating factor,
and was still in our hands. From that vantage point
180 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
it might yet be possible to collect our scattered forces,
and obtain reinforcements.
Flushed with victory, and elated at his escape,
Jiand would also remember the importance of
Khwash, and would doubtless soon be on his way
thither, if, indeed, he was not already marching
So, once again, it was to be a race between us for
the capital of the Sarhad.
And, as on that former occasion of a few months
ago, we won the race, but our return was a very
different affair to that of our previous triumphant
SUCCESS IN MINIATURE
The night attack The Hazaras arrive Jiand retires We march
on the Sar-i-drokan valley Cavalry strategy " Gushti's "
decision and opinion " The Hole of Judgment " Attack
and retirement -A lost and regained water-supply The Sar-
hadis as humorists The mud fort Halil Khan's arrival
The fight at dawn Exit Halil Khan A prophet The
IMMEDIATELY on re-entering Khwash Colonel
Claridge was sent out, with all the men it was
possible to spare, in an endeavour to find, and bring
back, the strayed remnants of the prisoners' escort.
In the meantime a camel messenger was dispatched
to Saindak asking the O.C. of the Hazaras to
march South to our help at once, and to take a route
by which they might, with luck, join up with
Colonel Claridge. A messenger was also dispatched
to Colonel Dale, then commanding at Kacha,
requesting him to send us all the supplies and
ammunition he could spare, and personally to do his
utmost to expedite the Hazaras, who were also in
his immediate sphere of command.
Hardly had Colonel Claridge and his small
detachment left Khwash when Jiand, with a large
force, took up his position among the low hills about
182 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
three miles to the North-East of the town, and Shah
Sawar, who, as I might have expected, was now in
full and open revolt, worried us from the hills to the
But we were not going to admit yet that we were
beaten. Daily we left the camp for the open as a
challenge to Jiand to come out of his hills and fight,
though it must be confessed that we hoped he would
not accept it.
At last, after a good deal of apparent indecision,
the two Chiefs made up their minds to attack us,
and by night.
I must explain that in order, as far as possible,
to deceive the enemy as to our numbers or rather
lack of them the whole of our newly entrenched
camp remained occupied by day; nor did we spare
any device likely to give the impression of a larger
garrison. But at night the men were withdrawn to
a small, strongly fortified sector of the camp, so as
to consolidate our strength. One of our Maxims
had been placed in this sector, the other on the
only tourelle left standing, and trained on the camp.
As we were always expecting a night attack, we
were thus well prepared for it when it came. Jiand
made his at the North-East and Shah Sawar at the
South-West angles of the camp : and when the
presence of large numbers of the enemy became
apparent round these areas, our men started to shoot
wildly, but were quickly steadied, and ordered to
hold fire. The whole of our depositions had been
SUCCESS IN MINIATURE 183
made with the object of allowing the enemy, if the
attack came by night, actually to enter the camp, and
so enable us to deal with them in denser formation.
The outer defences were rushed, and from the
temporary pause that occurred it was clear that the
enemy was surprised at finding no defence. This
was of course the vital moment at which to let them
know we were alive.
From my position in the defensive section of the
camp I had had a telephone line laid to the tourelle.
It was, therefore, possible to order the two Maxims
to open simultaneous fire, and, at the same time,
a heavy rifle fire right into the heart of those
The enemy recognised that a night surprise had
failed, and were evidently not inclined to continue
the fight under conditions so very unfavourable to
themselves, so beat a hasty retreat. The night was
very dark, and so the results of our fire were not
observable. Rumour said that the enemy had
suffered heavily in dead and wounded, but they must
have removed their casualties as there was nothing
to be seen in the morning. The results were all I
desired, as we were not attacked again.
Three or four days later we were much elated to
learn that a junction had been effected between
Colonel Claridge, the remnant of the prisoners'
escort, and the three hundred men of the io6th
Hazara Pioneers under Major Lang. The same
information showed that they were marching
184 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
together, as quickly as possible, on Khwash, and
would probably be in that day. This was good
When they did arrive my spirits rose higher still.
The Hazaras were a splendid body of men, all
spoiling for a fight, and I promptly arranged that
they should have it. It will be remembered that
the Hazaras are Shiahs, hence their eagerness to
blot out as many of the Sunni Sarhadis, per man,
as they could manage.
Directly Jiand became aware of their arrival he
realised that it would be simply waste of time to
remain in the neighbourhood of Khwash. He had
now not the slightest hope of capturing it, so with-
drew, with all his forces, to the Sar-i-drokan valley,
which, it will be remembered, was his Summer haunt.
This valley lies parallel with the Kamalabad valley,
but on the farther side of the Morpeish Hills, and is
bounded on its Northern side by the Sar-i-drokan
It seemed now that there might be a good chance
of fighting Jiand with real hope of success, and with
the elimination of bluff, upon which it would no
longer be of any use to rely.
Could we but defeat him in a square and open
fight our past failures would be amply avenged, and
British prestige again in the ascendant.
So, with this object in view, messages were sent
telling him to look to himself, for we were coming,
not only to fight him, but to lift all his herds. Jiand
SUCCESS IN MINIATURE 185
replied with the defiant message that he was quite
ready for us, and that he knew how to defend his
herds, as well as his men, from all comers.
The Hazaras were given a couple of days* rest
after their long, rapid march, and we then set out.
The combined force now consisted of the three
hundred Hazaras, a squadron of cavalry, two
mountain and two machine guns and some Rekis.
The remnant of our original force and two machine
guns were left in Khwash, under the command of
The British officers with me were Major Sanders
(Brigade Major), Major Lang, Captain Moore-Lane,
Lieutenant Bream of the Hazaras, Lieutenant
English with the guns, and Captain Brownlow in
command of the cavalry. We started on a scorch-
ing hot day, the 28th of July, with Jiand's herds in
the valley of the Sar-i-drokan as objective.
There were two ways of entering this valley, which
is about seventy-five miles long, more or less closed
at "either end by a bottle-neck formation of hills,
and protected along the whole length of its sides,
as already described, by the precipitous Morpeish
and Sar-i-drokan Ranges.
We fully realised that the entry to this valley
would, in all probability, be a tough proposition, as
the entrances could be easily defended, and would
therefore be hard to force. The North-Western
gorge, one of the two by which the valley could be
entered, was called the Dast-Kird, and was very
186 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
narrow. Jiand could, therefore, easily hold us in
this direction. For, in an attack upon it, cavalry
would only be an incumbrance, and, owing to the
perpendicular sides of the gorge, and to the curious
convexities of the hill-sides which obscured the view
from below, the guns would fail in their proper
sphere of usefulness.
Yet it would be necessary to enter the valley by
that gorge, or by the alternative one at the South-
Eastern end, and close to a place called Gusht.
But this second gorge was almost as difficult of
access, if defended, as that of the Dast-Kird.
It will be well to explain also that here, in the
Sarhad, victory is attained more by the number of
ramas herds of goats and sheep captured than
by the number of men killed. It will be seen, there-
fore, that if we were to claim, and to be accredited
with, a victory over Jiand, it became essential to
capture the whole, or the greater part, of his herds.
This we well knew would be a difficult matter, but
it would have to be done, despite Idu's doubts on
" If you try to go in by the Dast-Kird, Sahib,
Jiand will send his herds out by Gusht. If, on
the other hand, you try to enter by Gusht, it will
probably be fatal. Not only will Jiand send his
herds out by the Dast-Kird, but as Gusht stands
on the border of Halil Khan's territory he also will
doubtless take you on, whilst it will only be a
comparatively short distance for Jiand to make his
SUCCESS IN MINIATURE 187
dash through the Dast-Kird and so down to Khwash.
While he i$ attacking the few men you have left in
Khwash, you will be left at Gusht with Halil Khan
guarding the defile! "
For once Idu had become a croaker, but we were
not in the mood to listen to him.
We camped out in the open, but under the lea of
the Morpeish Hills, and from out of those hills we
knew that hundreds of eyes were watching our every
At this stage I sent for Captain Brownlow and
ordered him to march with the cavalry, while it was
still light, for several miles in the direction of the
Dast-Kird, at the same time making as big a display
as he could; but, when night fell, to rejoin us as
quickly and noiselessly as possible.
This little piece of strategy will be plain to the
reader. When the enemy saw our cavalry, appar-
ently going in the direction of the Dast-Kird, he
would conclude that we intended to attack at that
point. Jiand would, therefore, concentrate in that
direction to defend the pass, and to prepare the
ground for battle on the morrow. We, meantime,
would be marching with all speed in the opposite
direction towards Gusht.
Accordingly, Captain Brownlow, making a fine
show with his cavalry, set out towards the Dast-Kird,
and continued in that direction till night-fall. But
he went one better than his instructions. He found
and collected a quantity of dried-up scrub, and this
188 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
he set fire to in patches, to give the impression that
our whole force was camping there on its way to the
Dast-Kird. This done he returned to camp under
cover of darkness.
Jiand fell into the trap. Warned by his scouts of
what they imagined to be taking place he moved off
with his force of something between one thousand
and fifteen hundred fighting men, and actually
marched all night towards the Dast-Kird. To
safeguard his herds he sent them off in the
opposite direction, towards Gusht. The position
now amounted to this. Jiand's herds, on the farther
side of the Morpeish Hills, and ourselves on the near
side, were hurrying as fast as we could towards the
Gusht defile, whilst Jiand and his men were hasten-
ing in the opposite direction towards Dast-Kird.
Thus it was that, by the time Jiand realised the trick
that had been played upon him, we had gained a full
two marches in the race for the defile.
Gusht the town mentioned as being just outside
the gorge of the same name belonged to a Raider
Chief with a name so difficult to pronounce that I
never achieved it, and so was forced to call him
" Gushti." The name has stuck to him I believe
ever since. This Raider was at the head of about
two hundred fighting men, and claimed to be a
complete free lance, and to owe allegiance neither to
Jiand, Halil Khan, nor anyone else. Gusht boasted
a mud fort of some size, and from this stronghold
" Gushti " raided at will.
SUCCESS IN MINIATURE 189
I had been told that " Gushti " was prepared to
join any force as a free lance if bent on an
expedition which appealed to his taste. We were,
in consequence, up against the fact that, if Jiand
reached Gusht first, " Gushti " would undoubtedly
be persuaded to join him. On the other hand, if we
were first on the spot, it might be possible to bribe
him into throwing in his lot with us.
The distance between Kamalabad, where we had
first camped, and Gusht is about sixty miles, and the
distance between Kamalabad and Dast-Kird is
approximately fifteen miles. It will be understood,
then, that while Jiand was marching the fifteen miles
between Kamalabad and Dast-Kird we were moving
fifteen miles in the opposite direction. When, there-
fore, he learned the truth as to the position, we were
thirty miles ahead of him a useful start. On
learning his error Jiand turned and came hot-foot in
pursuit of us along the farther slopes of the hills.
And such good progress did he make, despite the
difficulties of the ground, that he came very near to
overtaking us, though, fortunately, not quite. The
prize offered for the race was a big one, the unop-
posed passage of the Gusht defile, plus the active, or
passive, assistance of " Gushti."
On the third day's march we approached, and
deployed our force to give it as big a frontage as
possible. This was done to impress " Gushti."
As usual, we had sent messengers on ahead. These
invited " Gushti " to join us, and pointed out the
190 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
uselessness of opposition as Jiand was hopelessly
behind, and promised large rewards if he decided to
join us of his own free will.
When we arrived " Gushti " came out to meet us,
all smiles and pleasantness, and assured me that he
had not the slightest idea of opposing us, but that he
would prefer not to fight against his old friend Halil
Khan. He undoubtedly held him in wholesome
dread. He also warned me that we were in for a
big thing if we really meant fighting. Jiand might
be behind, but not so very far, for, as usual, news of
our proceedings had spread ahead of us. Jiand, he
continued, with a very large force, was close on our
heels, though on the other side of the range ; whilst
the Gamshadzais, under Halil Khan, were gathered
in large numbers on the Southern slopes of the
Safed-koh about two marches away to the North
of the Gusht defile and were ready to attack us at
He admitted, however, that we had gained one
great advantage, namely an unopposed passage
through the defile.
We spent a very short time in Gusht, which
boasted a considerable number of mud huts, as well
as the fort already mentioned. There were also
several karezes, and a fair number of date palms
dotted about, which gave a picturesque appearance
to the place. In addition, there was a spring which
" Gushti " insisted on our seeing, and which was
supposed to possess extraordinary qualities.
SUCCESS IN MINIATURE 191
This spring gushes out of the top of a dome-
shaped rock, and close beside it, also in the rock,
is a hole called " The Hole of Judgment." If a man
has been accused of wrongdoing, and is brought
to this hole, a sure test of his innocence or guilt can
be obtained. If, on thrusting his hand into the hole,
he is able to draw it out again, he is innocent. If
he cannot perform the feat he is guilty. This
appears to be an unfailing method of obtaining
absolution for their sins.
We passed through the defile that evening, though
we had already had a long march, for I did not want
to risk losing the advantage we had gained. Once
through the neck we debouched into comparatively
open ground, and, after continuing our march for
some three miles, halted and encamped by the side
of a fine kareze.
That same night Jiand arrived at a point only
five miles distant. We had not, therefore, won the
race with much to spare. Later information showed
that he had travelled night and day, and was deeply
depressed to find that, owing to his initial mistake,
we had passed, unopposed, what should have been a
The next morning we advanced about three miles
along the valley, subject to a certain amount of
sniping which grew worse as we proceeded. We
encamped in a strong position by a spring. We
were fully aware that, at any moment, the Yarmahom-
medzais in front of us might join hands with the
192 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
Gamshadzais. Their combined forces would then
number anything between two thousand to two
thousand five hundred men.
We now learned that a large number of the
Gamshadzai herds had been sent to a place called
Makn-tuk in the Safed-koh hills beyond the Saragan
defile. I decided to attack in the direction of Makn-
Accordingly, at about five o'clock on the following
morning, we attacked the Gamshadzais' position by
the Saragan defile, but at the outset the opposition
proved far greater than we had anticipated, and,
though this attack was pushed till eleven o'clock, the
main body had then only advanced about half a mile.
I then realised that it would be futile to hope to
push on to Makn-tuk, and, much against my will,
withdrew the scattered forces, some of which were
already engaged far up on the hill-sides. With the
help of covering fire from the Maxim and mountain
guns, we withdrew with comparatively small loss to
our last camping ground.
The Hazaras were very disappointed at this order
to retire, for they declared that, had they been
allowed to advance, they would, most certainly,
have succeeded in knocking out the opposition and
winning through to Makn-tuk. But during our
passage through that region at a later date these fire-
eaters were better able to gauge the extraordinary
difficulty of the terrain, and had to admit that it would
have been impossible to fight a way through.
SUCCESS IN MINIATURE 193
In the meantime a body of the enemy had moved
down from the hills, and had cut off our only avail-
able water supply by capturing the picket-post guard-
ing the spring before mentioned.
This was serious and I immediately rode forward
with an escort of about a dozen cavalrymen. But
we had not proceeded far when, quite suddenly, a
heavy fire was opened on us from the hills. Fortun-
ately no one was hit, but it was a miraculous escape,
for the ground around us was literally ploughed up
We dismounted, attacked and regained the picket-
post. As Brownlow and I entered the sangar I
noticed, on the ground at my feet, one of my own
cigarette boxes, which had been taken by the Raiders
when they captured my kit on its way from Nushki
The dozen Sawars were now left to defend the
spring, at any cost, and Brownlow and I returned to
the main body, meeting on the way the Sarhad-dar,
with some of the Rekis, who were coming to our
assistance. However, the danger was over for the
The Rekis solemnly assured me that I must be
tir-band (immune from fire). They had watched the
hail of bullets from the hills spattering around us,
and could yet hardly believe we had none of us
I had already found by experience that it was
always wise to take advantage of little superstitious
194 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
suggestions of this sort, so solemnly replied that it
was a well-known fact that I was tir-band !
We had now seen enough of the enemy's ways and
methods to realise his inclination to waste a great
deal of invaluable ammunition at long ranges. We,
therefore, decided upon what seemed a wise course
of action. Realising that to attack him in the hills
would be too expensive we would remain down in
the open, anyhow for a few days, draw his fire, and
give him a good opportunity of eating up his limited
food supply. We had food for a month, and knew
that he had only sufficient to last four or five days.
Accordingly we camped where we were for that
night, and on the following morning moved a little
farther back towards the Gusht gorge, taking up the
position upon which we had camped when first enter-
ing the valley.
On that short rearward march we were fired at
continuously, first at long range, and then, as the
enemy grew bolder, at close quarters. We could
distinctly hear them shouting as they came, crouch-
ing low amongst the rocks and scrub of the hill-sides.
They were humorists, too, these Sarhadis, for,
between the shouts, we could catch a very passable
imitation of the rat-a-tat-tat noise of our machine
guns. They came, at last, near enough to shout at
me, directly and personally, calling on me to sur-
render; promising if I did so to spare my life, and
also informing me that it was no good trying to fight
any longer as I was practically surrounded, and my
SUCCESS IN MINIATURE 195
retreat cut off. They used the selfsame expressions
I had so often used when summoning them to sur-
render. This was turning the tables with a venge-
ance! But we quickly saw that their boast as to
having cut our retreat was not altogether an idle
one. They had, at this stage, actually occupied a
little mud fort crowning a small hillock. This
hillock lay like an island in the bottom of the valley,
and commanded the camping ground we were making
The Raiders could be plainly seen shooting at us
through the loop-holes, but, unfortunately for them,
Lieutenant English promptly trained one of his
mountain guns on the fort. The first round fired
hit its mark, burst inside, and raised a huge cloud of
dust. Its disconcerted occupants promptly bolted,
and the way to our camping ground lay open.
Here it was possible to place the whole force in
comparative safety, partly owing to the cover aiforded
by the hillock with the mud fort on its summit, and
in a greater measure to the very convex slopes of
the hills to the North, which gave us complete shelter
from snipers' bullets.
Our only vulnerable point was from behind. If
the enemy collected in the low hills running out from
the sides of the gorge it would be possible to rush
us in the darkness. It was in that direction, accord-
ingly, that we must look out for trouble.
With the idea of guarding against this I asked
" Gushti " to supply me with a couple of men who
196 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
knew the country well, and were able to find their
way amongst the hills by night.
I then waited till it was quite dark before sending
out two strong pickets, each consisting of fifty men,
under the guidance of " Gushti's " men, to occupy
two of the low hills which Sanders and I had care-
fully noted whilst the daylight lasted. These com-
manded the ground over which the attack would most
likely come. We now fully realised that we were
in a very tight corner, and that there was nothing to
be done but to stay and fight it out.
That night Halil Khan himself arrived with rein-
forcements from Jalk, and went straight to Jiand
and his Yarmahommedzais.
He harangued them on their lack of enterprise in
not having already defeated my force and made me
a prisoner. He told the tribesmen that they vastly
outnumbered my men and suggested that, if Jiand
had lost his nerve, they had better serve, for the time
being, under his leadership, when they would soon
see how to capture the Sahib's forces. The out-
come of this forceful personality's action was that
Jiand, old and now very weary, consented to waive
his leadership in Halil Khan's favour for the time
So sure seems Halil Khan to have been of his
ultimate and complete victory over us on the morrow
that he actually sent a messenger off, that night, to
the Khan of Bampur, telling him that the British
General, who had caused so much trouble, was
SUCCESS IN MINIATURE 197
already a captive, and that hundreds of his men had
been killed. He also wound up this premature
message by inviting the Khan to come and share
He then left Jiand's camp, taking with him Jiand's
men, marched right round our position to our rear,
and occupied a long, deep hollow between the two
very low hills on which the pickets had been posted,
but whose presence was absolutely unsuspected, as
they had got there noiselessly in the darkness.
From this hollow an easy advance on our camp
could be made, and Halil Khan's intention had been,
with the dawn, to rush us, and by sheer weight of
numbers, overwhelm us.
But just before dawn one of those insignificant
accidents occurred upon which great things so often
As Halil Khan made ready for the attack, which
I heard later was timed to take place during the next
ten minutes, the rifle of one of his men went off by
I distinctly heard the shot, and have since been
told that I rushed out of my tent shouting, " The
Lord has delivered them into our hands ! "
I am perfectly certain I never said any such thing,
though I may have exclaimed, " We've got em ! "
In an instant a roar of musketry broke out from
the hills on both sides, for the shot had alarmed the
pickets, and they were firing down into the hollow
from whence the sound had come.
198 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
Light was beginning to break, and it was then just
sufficient to see by, dimly and uncertainly. In any
case I knew I had got my chance.
Instant orders were given that every man in camp
should reinforce the pickets.
It soon became apparent that Halil Khan, ignorant
that the heights above him were occupied, had com-
mitted a grave error. Daylight showed that his
force were completely exposed to our fire, and that he
could neither advance nor retire without running the
gauntlet of it; for this grew hotter and hotter as
reinforcements came up.
Halil Khan and his men fought like tigers, but
were in an impossible position. We had all the
ammunition we required and an easy target. Our
own casualties were astonishingly light, but we did
not get off scot-free, and Halil Khan was personally
responsible for many of our men.
By eleven o'clock the fight was over, and those of
the enemy remaining alive got clear as best they
Before long news was brought that Halil Khan
had been killed, and that his body was still lying in
the hollow. Immediate orders were given for it to
be brought in, as I feared the Shiah Hazaras might
attempt to mutilate it. One of the Hazaras spread
the news that he had seen me blow Halil Khan's
head off. The Sarhad-dar overheard him, repeated
what the Hazara had said, and asked me to go and
look at the body, which had now been brought in.
SUCCESS IN MINIATURE 199
A number of us went and looked at the body, and
found that a bullet had pierced his eye and had blown
the back of his head off.
One of the Rekis, who had been present at the
last Durbar in Khwash, exclaimed, " Sahib, you are
a Buzurg (a prophet). You said at the Durbar in
Khwash that if ever Halil Khan fought against you
again you would blow his head off. And behold,
you have done it."
Once again I felt it policy to acquiesce and to
admit that I was a prophet. As a fact, I had not
fired a single shot during the engagement.
Soon after I had returned to my tent an irate,
native officer of the Hazaras craved admission, which
was accorded. Without preface he opened bluntly.
" Sahib, will you give us Halil Khan's body? "
I asked, " Why ? What do you mean to do with
it? Do you want to mutilate it? "
He replied, " Sahib, when we lost men the day
before yesterday, and buried them before retiring,
the Yarmahommedzais, who came down after our
departure, dug up the bodies, mutilated them
horribly and flung them to the jackals. Therefore,
in justice, Halil Khan's body is ours."
" Halil Khan was a brave man as well as a great
leader," I replied. " You are going to give him a
soldier's funeral. You surely have no wish to treat
him in the same terrible way that your men were
He urged his point of view with such heat that I
200 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
at last grew angry and asked him by what right he
demanded Halil Khan's body, and to answer me as
to who had killed him.
' You did, Sahib," he replied, eyeing me curiously.
" Exactly," I said with decision. " Then to whom
does the body belong to you or to me ? "
This seemed rather to appeal to him, for he replied
with greater calm :
' To you, Sahib, I suppose."
" I suppose so too, and I am going to do what I
like with it. Go at once to Gusht, buy a new wind-
ing sheet, and we will give Halil Khan a soldier's
burial; one befitting his brave deeds and position.
Bring in all the mullahs (priests) you can find in
Gusht. Oh, and, by the way, you can pay for the
winding sheet for wasting so much of my time in
So we accorded Halil Khan a really fine soldier's
funeral. Nor was this without results, for we
learned, later, that it had made a great and favourable
impression throughout the Sarhad.
VICTORY AND PEACE
News of the herds Towards Dast-Kird Water ! Mutton for
all Dast-Kird A stampede Back to Khwash On the
track of the Gamshadzais Twice a prophet The Sharhad-
dar's roost Before Jalk Rejected terms More strategy
and a bloodless victory Remain only terms and sick leave.
WE had certainly won a decisive victory from a
military point of view, but, according to the unwritten
code regulating victory in the Sarhad, we had yet to
capture the Raiders' ramas or herds of goats and
This omission still confronted us when one of
Idu's special Reki scout declared he knew the
exact whereabouts of Jiand's herds, and that he could
lead us there in two marches. At the end of each
of these he declared we should also find a good camp-
ing ground, and a good water supply. As these men
had never yet promised water and failed us, orders
were given to strike camp and march out in the direc-
tion of Dast-Kird, through the valley lying between
the Morpeish and Sar-i-drokan Ranges.
Although we made a very early start the heat soon
became intense. There was not a particle of shade,
and our route lay slightly uphill all the way, over
rugged broken ground. Also, as we were confident
202 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
of finding water at the camping ground, the men
had emptied their water bottles before mid-day, and
were enduring agonies of thirst long before we
reached our proposed camping place ; whilst the
suffering of the animals was pitiful to see. But the
prospect of a good drink at the end of the march kept
up our spirits.
At last, late in the afternoon, the Reki, who had
constituted himself our guide, gave a cry and ran
forward, telling us that we had reached the spot
where we should find water.
No sign of stream or spring showed itself, but I
remembered that the Sarhadis have a way of finding
water seemingly miraculous to the white man, and
when the Reki proceeded to dig and scratch in the
ground at the foot of a stunted tree we fully expected
to see a little spring gush forth. The men, therefore,
with lips swollen and tongues cleaving to the roofs
of their mouths, crowded round, eager and impatient.
But, for once, Nature and the Reki failed us. For
though the latter dug and dug, with the sweat pour-
ing down his face, the dry, arid ground showed not
the faintest sign of moisture.
At last he desisted and fell at my feet, saying
despairingly, " Sahib, there is no water! I found
water here once, in the cold season, and I thought it
would always be here. The heat must have dried
it all up."
Our situation was pretty desperate. We had not
a drop of water for man or beast, and now could not
WATER ! ON THE MARCH TO THE SAR-T-DROKAN.
VICTORY AND PEACE 203
tell when we should get any. All through the latter
part of that day's march we had succeeded in getting
the men along solely by encouraging them with
promises of water. " Just a mile farther on " and
then, " perhaps another half-mile." Only those who
have marched without water in torrid countries can
have any conception of the depression that grips
men when they do not know when, or where, water
may next be found.
I cursed the man for misleading us, and he shook
with fear. " It is not my fault, Sahib. Water was
here when last I Ccune to this place. But to-morrow,
without fail, I will lead you to a fine stream of
" To-morrow? " I echoed. " How are we to
exist till to-morrow? Why should I believe you?
You have deceived us to-day, why not again to-
The man swore on the Koran he could and would
lead us to a place where we should find water. " If I
do not succeed, Sahib, in finding water before eleven
o'clock, then take my life."
I replied grimly that if he failed again, his life
would most certainly be forfeit that was to say if
any of us then remained in a condition to shoot him.
The whole force suffered horribly that night, and
when we set out again it was still dark. The Reki
went on ahead with the advance guard. I rather
imagine he was anxious to put a safe distance
between himself and my revolver, for I had, indeed,
204 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
determined to have him shot if he deceived us a
second time. No man could face a second day of
that blinding heat and glare without water and keep
We had only been marching a few hours when a
Sawar rode back from the advance guard to report
that large herds of sheep and goats had been sighted
a short distance ahead.
Our spirits instantly rose. Where there were
sheep there would, most probably, be water. Shout-
ing to the men to encourage them we galloped
forward and were soon pushing our way through
masses of sheep to find ourselves on the banks of a
stream of clear, cool water.
The difficulty, of course, was now to restrain man
and beast from over-drinking; for if ever nectar
flowed on this earth it flowed that day in that parched,
sun-baked Saragan Valley.
Unfortunately, like the majority of streams in the
Sarhad, and in Persia generally, it only flowed above
ground for a short distance, to be soon lost again in
the arid, sandy ground. So orders were given to
halt at that spot till we were all rested, and had
absorbed sufficient water to make up for the past
The thirty-four herds of sheep and goats found
here were claimed as spoils of war, and I determined
to give the men a real, good feast for once. Here
was any amount of mutton for the killing, and well-
nigh as much goats' milk as water.
VICTORY AND PEACE 205
The hungry Hazaras sent in a request that
they might each have a whole sheep a day. I
naturally thought such a request fantastic, and,
mot taking it literlally, sent back word that they
might, for once, have as much meat as they
But they took the permission literally, and actually
did slaughter a sheep for each man. I discovered
afterwards that their great idea had been to be able
to boast, in the future, that, after their great victory
over the Yarmahommedzais, led by the Gamshadzai
Chief, Halil Khan, their rations had been " a sheep
per man per day."
After this feast the carcasses of the uneaten sheep,
and of the half-cooked meat, lay about in an orgy of
waste, and the sight of the camping-ground was, as
may be imagined, a sickening one. Never again
was such a ration-order given!
Late in the afternoon, with the whole force in fine
fettle, we continued our forward march, driving the
herds with us, and, a little later, found a good camp-
ing ground with a plentiful supply of water. For
many hours that night, owing to the bleating of
thousands of sheep, there was little rest for anyone.
But as they were now our sheep and not the enemy's,
the annoyance was cheerfully borne.
Upon the following day water proved scarce, and
a great deal of digging had to be done before even a
trickle could be found. The unfortunate sheep and
animals had, therefore, to go very short. The
206 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
country was also from this point getting very difficult,
and marching became a great labour in consequence.
Part of our route lay through a narrow, rocky defile ;
one of the worst to negotiate, from a military point of
view, that I have ever encountered. Had a mere
handful of the enemy clibsen to obstruct us it would
have been utterly impossible to get through.
Much picketing of the heights had to be done, and
this called for a great effort on the part of the Hazara
Pioneers. These duties were well carried out under
the very able direction of Major Lang.
Fortunately the Yarmahommedzais had had
enough of it, and left us severely alone. In fact, the
only signs we had of them were the blood tracks of
their wounded, walking or carried. But even these
were significant enough evidence of their losses
during the fight.
The next day brought us more open ground,
though marching still remained arduous, as we were
tackling an uphill route. But later it fell away again
towards the Dast-Kird gorge, and, by the afternoon,
we were able to pitch our camp in a wild, but very
picturesque, little valley, close to Jiand's Summer
haunt. This valley, as I have already explained,
lies between the Morpeish and Sar-i-drokan heights,
which at this point rise sheer from it on either side.
There are also a good many trees in the neighbour-
hood, and the ground round the bases of these had
been flattened, and then plastered with mud, in order
to form good flooring for jugis.
VICTORY AND PEACE 207
We spent the night here, and on the following day
arrived at Dast-Kird, where we camped close to a
small stream. Unfortunately this stream was so
small, a mere trickle, that it would not suffice for the
animals, who had had insufficient water for the last
two or three days.
These herds were some little distance behind, for,
poor brutes, they were feeling the heat and lack of
water terribly. We, therefore, proceeded to make
some provision for them, before their arrival, by
damming the stream, and trying to make a small
The first animals to arrive were the battery mules,
who, when they smelt water, made a dash for it.
But they had scarcely begun to drink than a mass of
twelve thousand sheep and goats, also smelling water,
broke from their would-be shepherds, and, in a solid
phalanx, charged the mules, routed them, and took
possession of the water-supply. The men pulled
and tugged, and struck them with their rifles in their
endeavour to stampede them and drink themselves.
But those sheep knew the power of numbers and of
combination. With their heads well down they
slaked their thirst from a stream which, now that the
dam had been trodden down, had again become a
trickle, and they held that position, against all
comers, for twenty minutes. Poor beasts, they
paid for their orgy at the price of some two hundred
lives that night.
Upon the following day we started on our return
208 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
march to Khwash, and, upon our entry there, were
accorded a great reception, and the story of the fight
had to be told again and again.
It was during this march that we began to realise
the extent of the Yarmahommedzai casualties in the
recent fighting ; for, during the whole of it, from the
scene of the fight right through to Khwash, a
distance of about a hundred miles, not a single one
of the enemy did we see, nor was a solitary shot fired
But I was still not quite satisfied with results.
We had not yet closely engaged and beaten the
Gamshadzais, nor had we put into operation that
deciding factor, the capture of their herds. On the
contrary, when we had attempted to pierce the
Saragan defile, they had forced us to retire.
I have never yet been able to understand why
Halil Khan never brought his own force against us
near Gusht, but only the Yarmahommedzais, after
he had persuaded Jiand to let him lead the latter into
It can only be supposed that he thought he had a
task easy enough to tackle with one lashkar, and that
he would not, in consequence, endanger his own
men's lives. The mystery is the deeper because he
had previously been at great pains to collect all his
scattered tribesmen, and had concentrated them in
the Safed-koh. Yet these men, even when news
reached them of our victory over Jiand's tribe and
of the death of their leader, never made the smallest
VICTORY AND PEACE 209
attempt to attack us or to reverse the decision of
It will be understood, then, that while the
Gamshadzais remained unbeaten and their herds
intact, our claim to dominance in the Sarhad could
not be claimed as anything but partial. If, there-
fore, we were to hope for lasting peace in the future,
they too must have a lesson.
So, after a couple of days' rest at Khwash, we
marched out with our faces once more turned towards
Gusht, and with every hope of another victory.
The composition of the force was much the same as
that upon the previous occasion, but with the addition
of a few Chagai Levies under Major Hutchinson
A couple of days/ marching across the burning
plain found us camped at a place called Ab-i-
kahugan, lying in a small valley closely surrounded
by hills. The men were hot and weary, and, as
water had been scarce on the march, they were only
too thankful to fling themselves down and rest.
There were a small water hole and a few stunted
trees and shrubs under which a certain amount of
shade could be obtained.
For myself I dropped down under one of these
bushes and slept well on into the afternoon. When
at last I woke, still feeling very done up with the
heat, I saw one or two flashes of lightning in the
distance, and felt certain that it was going to rain.
I immediately got up and gave orders for the
210 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
whole camp to be moved on to higher ground, and
selected a likely spot on one of the slopes of the
low hills surrounding the valley.
The heat was still very great, and the effort
expended in striking and re-pitching camp was not
inconsiderable. The present camping-place was
also infinitely cooler and more comfortable.
As an outcome of this order an officer reported
that the men were grumbling at having to move
when tired out with the heat and the heavy marching
of the last few days.
I explained (for I knew by my own state how tired
and done the men must be) that I had a presenti-
ment that it was going to rain and that, if it did,
the dry valley-bed would soon be a running stream.
The officer stared at me. " Rain? " he repeated,
as though he had not heard me aright. " But it
hardly ever rains in the Sarhad, and it has never
been known to rain in August."
" Nevertheless," I replied, " this valley-bottom is
going to be turned upside down, and the sooner you
get your men out of it and up on to high ground the
The officer saluted and returned to his men, who
sulkily proceeded to carry up their kit and tents
and to form a new camp on the uncomfortable,
sloping sides of the hill.
As I strolled about, seeing that my orders were
being carried out, I noticed that Major Hutchinson's
tent had been left in the bed of the valley. I
VICTORY AND PEACE 211
walked up to it, found him dozing inside, and told
him to have his tent moved on to higher ground as
it was going to rain.
He, however, demurred, saying that he was very
tired. He added, " It never rains in the month
of August in Baluchistan."
I, however, remained firm, though the few light
clouds flecking the sky a short while before had
Despite my stringent orders some of Major
Hutchinson's Chagai Levies apparently passed
unnoticed amongst the low scrub, and so remained
down in the shady comfort of the valley.
As the evening wore on I began to feel that
perhaps I had been foolish in ignoring the dogmatic
statements of the men well acquainted with weather
conditions in the Sarhad, and was still chewing the
cud of this reflection when, suddenly, I heard a
roar in the distance. This came rapidly nearer, and
very quickly resolved itself into the sound of rushing
water. Almost before we realised it, a mighty spate
swept into the valley, literally filling it. The water
carried everything before it, and very soon small
trees, shrubs and debris were being hurled along
in a mighty rush.
It was pretty evident that the rain foretold had
indeed fallen, though actually, in another part of
the hills, forming this spate, which would have caused
us serious loss but for my lucky premonition.
Torrents of rain accompanied the spate, and
212 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
the kit of the few Chagai Levies who had
neglected orders was carried away and never seen
As for the Levies themselves, they came within
an ace of losing their own lives, and only saved
themselves by clambering into the branches of some
stunted trees, and waiting there till rescued. Nor
was the rescue-work done without considerable risk
to the rescuers.
The Sarhad-dar had, for some reason, been down
in the valley-bed when the spate arrived, and had
been nearly drawn under during the first few minutes.
But he too, fortunately, managed to climb into a low
tree, where for some time his position was perilous
enough, for the swirling waters threatened every
minute to snap or uproot the trunk, when he would
have been carried away.
It was pitch dark when the spate arrived. I had
seized a hurricane lamp from my tent and was
watching the amazing scene by its light, when I heard
the Sarhad-dar's voice shouting for help. One of
our resourceful Rekis instantly grasped the situation.
He jumped on to one of the horses tethered close
by, urged him into the flood, and soon had the
Sarhad-dar safely beside me on the high ground.
He was later on recommended for the Royal
Humane Society's Medal.
The next morning, as soon as I was awake, my
tent was besieged by the Hazaras. They crowded
round, asking me to come out. So slipping into my
VICTORY AND PEACE 218
kit I emerged with the intention of asking them what
But I had scarcely lifted the tent-flap when they
all raised a shout, and then proceeded to tell me that
I was a Buzurg (prophet), that they all owed their
lives to me, and had come to thank me.
I replied with proper solemnity. It was undeni-
able, I said, that I was a prophet, for had they not
recently had two concrete instances of my powers?
Later on, Major Hutchinson, in thanking me for
saving his life, asked : " How did you know it was
going to rain ? "
I laughingly replied, " Because I'm. a prophet,
my son! Didn't you hear the Hazaras proclaim it
just now? "
As a matter of fact we had very great reason to
be thankful for our escape. The loss of the whole
of our camp equipment, and of hundreds of our
animals, would have been inevitable had the camp
remained on its original site.
The day following this incident we marched
through Gusht again, and camped on the site of our
From here we resumed our march in the direction
of Zaiti, a camping ground lying just beyond the
Saragan defile. But though we started at five a.m.,
met with no opposition and reckoned the distance
only about twelve miles, we were not through the
defile before midnight.
It must have been at about this hour that I called
214 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
one of the native Hazara officers to my side, and
remarked, " Your men were very disappointed the
other day when we tried to force the pass, and the
order was given to retire. You remember, they said
they were convinced they could have got through,
even with the heavy opposition we encountered.
Do you think, now they've seen what it's really like,
they are satisfied that the order was a necessary
" Sahib," he replied, " of course we all see now
that we could have done nothing in such a place
against a determined enemy. I have never been
through such a place in my life, and I am used to
rough and difficult country."
As a matter of fact the defile was so narrow in
places that a loaded camel could not get through it.
Fortunately we had a quantity of gun cotton with us,
so were able to blast the rocks here and there, and
thus make the passage possible for them without
In due course we arrived at the village of Sinukan,
a place some eleven miles from Jalk. Jalk at the
time was a Gamshadzai stronghold, where they held
two forts of some strength.
At Sinukan I received a message from the
Gamshadzais saying that they wished to treat with
me, and asking whether I would go into Jalk and state
my terms. If these were acceptable, they said, they
would instantly submit, but, if not/they undertook to
withdraw their forces to a distance of five miles on
HAXARA PIONEERS WIDENING A PASSAGE FOR LOADED CAMELS.
VICTORY AND PEACE 215
the farther side of Jalk, provided we also withdrew
five miles from the town on our side. This
suggestion was made in order to give us both time
to make our respective dispositions before fighting
An answer was sent to say that I agreed to the
conditions, and that my force would come at once
into Jalk to meet the Chiefs and present my terms to
I would say here that these terms were not drastic.
They were only bare necessary safeguards for the
lasting peace of the Sarhad. On their presentation,
therefore, and for a time during the discussion, I
hoped that counsels of wisdom would prevail, and
that they would be accepted in toto. At the
last minute, however, the hotheads over-ruled the
moderates and they were formally rejected.
On this rejection I warned them that, if they
persisted in their refusal, it meant fighting, and
their reply was that they fully recognised the
gravity of their decision, but that they meant to
abide by it.
Accordingly, we retired not only five miles but
the whole eleven miles back to Sinukan. My reason
for this action was that I had already thought out
a plan by which it might be possible to subdue these
warlike tribesmen without the fighting I was naturally
anxious to avoid. I certainly did not want to lose
my own men, nor did I wish to make casualties of
any more of the Sarhadis. My chief object had
216 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
been, throughout, and, as has already been men-
tioned in this narrative, to make friends with them in
the long run.
But no race, white or coloured, ever held in
respect man or government showing weakness or
indecision, and, as the foregoing pages prove, it was
of little use attempting to make friends with these
tribesmen without first inspiring them with a whole-
some respect for British arms.
As we approached Sinukan I directed my Brigade
Major to form two separate camps as I wished to
seize Jalk by surprise that night with a portion of
my force. My idea was to leave my transport and
other encumbrances under a sufficient guard at
Sinukan and with the remainder to move off secretly
to carry out my intentions. Great care was taken
to keep my idea secret, and only a few officers knew
my intention. So well was the secret kept that my
personal servant, Allah-dad, brought me my tea next
morning only to find my bed empty.
At midnight, very quietly we roused the troops
and marched off. Before dawn we arrived outside
the town. It was only at the very last moment that
the Gamshadzais, who had learned that I had gone
straight back to Sinukan, and, in consequence, had
not anticipated an attack that night, got wind of our
approach. They were, therefore, taken completely
by surprise, and utterly lost their heads. As we
charged into the place with the cavalry they all took
to their heels and rushed out on the other side,
VICTORY AND PEACE 217
leaving many arms behind them. Within a very
few minutes the two forts were in our hands.
My men soon rounded up the few Gamshadzais
who had remained in the place, which seemed other-
wise to be full of women and children.
To my embarrassment three large ramas of
weeping women and children were presently led up
to where I was sitting under a tree on the bank of a
stream. I was then informed that they were all
Some of them, in tears, asked me what I was going
to do with them.
I replied, " I don't know. But at any rate I am
English and not a German. What would you like
me to do with you ? "
They seemed bewildered at first, and without
understanding, but when I assured them that I was
speaking seriously, and really wanted to know what
they would like to do, they soon found their tongues
and made known the fact that they would like to go
to their own homes.
" Is that all? " I replied. " Well then, go."
Their faces which, at first, shone with joy soon fell
again. " But, Sahib, we have nothing left. .You
have captured all our possessions."
" But I don't want them," I returned. " Take
everything that is yours and go."
Their thanks were then overwhelming, but I cut
them short. " Wait a bit before you thank me so
much. No Englishman ever makes war against
218 THE RAIDERS OF THE SARHAD
woman and children but there are your men. If I
catch them, after all the trouble they've given me, I
shall certainly kill them."
" Kill them then, Sahib," they said scornfully.
" They deserted us, and ran away, when you and
your lashkar came in. It is all they deserve."
As a matter of fact I learned, soon afterwards, that
the Gamshadzais had not only run out of Jalk, but
right out of the Sarhad, to take refuge in other
districts. By thus evacuating their own country they
acknowledged their final defeat.
It is reasonable to suppose that this humiliating
end to their opposition would never have occurred
had Halil Khan been alive. He, at least, would
have been game to the last. He would have died
fighting at Jalk as he had indeed died at Gusht
or he would have surrendered with dignity. Halil
Khan was a fine man, and without his leadership the
spirit of his men at first faltered and then failed.
It seemed then that, by this last action with the
Gamshadzais, the prestige of the British had been
completely restored throughout the Sarhad. In the
West, Juma Khan, leader of the Ismailzais, had
faithfully kept his word to, and had demonstrated his
friendship and loyalty for, the British cause, ever
since he had pledged both at Kacha. In the centre
of the district the Yarmahommedzais had been
completely defeated in open action. In the East the
Gamshadzais had abandoned their arms and had
bolted from the country.
VICTORY AND PEACE 219
There was now nothing left to be done.
We, therefore, returned, marching easily to
Khwash, where, very shortly after our arrival, I
received letters from both the Yarmahommedzais
and Gamshadzais asking to be allowed to return to
their respective homes in the Sarhad, and on any
terms that might be imposed.
I had had eight months of continual work in the
hot weather of the Sarhad and was very near the
end of my tether. As a fact I was, by that time,
suffering badly in health in many ways, and our
medical officer insisted upon an immediate return to
India for a long rest.
As the Sarhad was now completely ours, and as
it only remained for the political officers to dictate
terms to the tribes, I listened to the advice of that
medical officer, applied for leave to return to Simla,
and was, in due course, granted it.
But, though the need for rest in a cooler climate
was urgent, it was with real regret that I said good-
bye to Khwash, the centre of so many hopes and
fears, and the scene of such dramatic happenings.
Allah-dad (the author's
servant), ig, 20, 23, 36,
Allan (the author's chauffeur)
ig, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27,
28, 32, 33, 36, 104, 105, 106,
107, 108, IOQ, no, 113, 117,
118, ng, 120, 121, 122,
Baluch Raiders, 21
Bampur, 44, 83, 84
Bampur, Khan of, 83, 84,
Birjand, 16, 38, 3g, 101
Bream, Lieutenant, 6, 185
Brownlow, Captain, 5, 185,
CHAGAI LEVIES, 6, 33, 34, 39,
41, 52, 60, 61, 73, 2og, 211,
Claridgre, Colonel, 5, 51, 143,
163, 181, 183, 185
DALE, COLONEL, 181
Dast-Kird, 185, 186, 187, 188,
i8g, 201, 206, 207
Dew, Colonel, 84
Duff, General Sir Beauchamp,
Duzd-ab Plain, g2, 95
EASTWICK, MR, 48
English, Captain, R.A., 6,
GALAHAD (the author's horse)
Galugan, 40, 82, 84, 85, 89,
Gamshadzais, 40, 47, 62, 73,
76, 82, go, 165, 167, 176,
177, 179, igo, ig2, 205, 208,
2og, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219
Grover, General, 20
Gul-Bibi, 58, 135, 136, 137,
138, 139, 140, 150, 151
Gusht, 42, 177, 186, 187, 188,
189, igo, ig4, 200, 208, 209,
" Gushti," 188, i8g, 190, 195,
Halil Khan, 40, 47, 49, 73, 76,
77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 89,
go, g4, g6, gg, 100, 137, 140,
141, 147, 148, 161. 172, 176,
177, 178, 186, 187, 188, igo,
ig6, ig7, 198, igg, 200, 205,
Hazara Pioneers, io6th,
6, 171, 172, 177, 181, 183,
184, 185, ig2, ig8, igg, 205,
2O6, 212, 213, 214
Hazara tribes, 17
Hirst, Captain, 5, 52, 60
Hutchinson, Major, 2og, 210,
Idu, 6, 33, 34, 35, 36, 41, 48,
49, 50, S3, 59, 65, 72, 73,
78, 83, 85, 87, 88, gi, 92,
93, 94, 95, 97, 99, 100, 103,
104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109,
no, 112, 114, 115, 116, 117,
iig, 121, 123, 124, 125, 126,
127, i2g, 133, 134, 135, 136,
138, 150, 165, 166, 176, 187,
Ismailzais, 40. 47, 62, 64, 79,
82, 8g, 218
Izzat, 78, 114, H5 n6, 117,
118, IIQ, 121, 123, 128, 131,
166, 168, 169, 170
JALK, 40, 42, 49, 55, 196, 214,
215, 216, 218
Jiand Khan, 40, 47, 49, 56,
57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63,
64, 65, 66, 67, 69, 70, 71,
72, 73, 75, 76, 78, 79, 80,
81, 82, 89, 90, 91, 94, 95,
98, 99, 100, 102, 103, in,
112, 113^, 116, 118, 122, 124,
128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133,
134, 135, 136, 137, MO, 142,
146, 147, U8, 152, 153, 154,
155, 157, 158, 159, 162, 172,
173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178,
179, 180, 181, 182, 184, 185,
186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191,
196, 197, 201, 206
Juma Khan, 40, 47, 62, 64.
79, 82, 84, 89, 90, 91, 9Q.
100, 101, 140, 161, 218
KACHA, 47, 49, 52, 53, 86,
87, 92, 95, 96, 97, 99, 104;
106, 116, 126, 137, 143, 166,
171, 181, 218
Kamalabad, 63, 65, 66, 67, 71,
89, 146, 147, 162, 163, 176,
177, 178, 179, 184, 189
Karsimabad, 147, 152, 153,
154, 155, 156, 157, 161
Khan Bahadur. See the
Khwash, 39, 40, 42, 50, 52,
55, 57, 58, 71, 72, 73, 74,
76, 80, 82, 83, 84, 87, 89,
97, 99, 100, 102, 103, 104,
108, 112, 113, 114, 116, 118,
119, 121, 122, 126, 127, 128,
129, 132, 133, 135, 137, 140,
142, 143, 144, 146, 152, 162,
163, 167, 169, 171, 175, 177,
179, 180, 181, 184, 185, 187,
199, 208, 209, 219
Khwashis, 74, 75, 124, 125,
126, 127, 128, 130, 163, 164,
Kirkpatrick, General, 15, 18,
Kitson, General Sir Gerald,
Koh-i-Bazman, 44, 83, 85
Koh-i-Taftan, 44, 55, 57, 63,
64, 74, 76, 89, 105, 154, 172,
LADIS, 55, 56, 57, 1 19
Landon, Major, 5, 37, 48, 50,
52, 53, 54, 61, 64, 72, 76,
83, 92, 93, 95, 102, 103, 104,
105, 108, 113, 118, 128, 129,
' 130, 131, 132, 133, 136, 137,
Lang-, Major, 5, 183, 185,
Liffht Cavalry, 28th, 5, 50,
5i, 52, M3
Lut Desert, 16
MACGOWAN, MAJOR, 52, 53
Mahommed-Hassan, 72, 73,
74, 80, 81, 135, 140
Middlesex, 9th, 19
Mirjawa, 52, 53, 54, 106
Mirza Khan, 82
Moore-Lane, Captain, 185
Morpeish Hills, 63, 65, 66,
67, 141, 178, 184, 185, 187,
188, 201, 206
Mourlain, Captain, 5
Murad, 147, 148, 152, 153, 155,
156, 157, 161
NARMASHIR, 17, gi, 170
Nasaratabad, 38, 39, 46, 50,
51, 64, 143
Nasaratabad-sippi, 64, 90
Nur-Mahommed, 157, 158,
Nushki, 18, 20, 21, 22, 39, 51,
71, 142, 193
Oxus RIVER, 38
Persian Gulf, 84
Pindi, 1 8, 20
Pioneers, i2th, 53, 54
Punjab Infantry, iQth, 52
QUETTA, 1 8, 20, 21, 39, 170
REKIS, 41, 47, 56, 82, IOQ,
112, 114, IIQ, 163, 165, 193,
igg, 201, 202, 203, 212
Robat, 20, 21, 22, 23, 28, 36,
37, 38, 41, 47, 50, 5i, 64,
71, 86, Q7, 104, 106, 142,
SAFED-KOH, 40, igo, ig2, 208
Saindak, 31, 32, 35, 36, 3g,
52, 104, 106, 171, 172, 177,
Sanders, Major, 5, 152, 154,
156, 158, isg, i7S, 176, 185,
Sarag-an defile, ig2, 204, 208,
Sarhad, 15, 17, 18, 21, 22, 35,
40, 43, 44, 52, ss. 77, 78,
81, 82, g4, 101, 113, ng,
135, 147, 161, 165, 177, 180,
1 86, 200, 201, 204, 2og, 210,
211, 215, 218, 2ig
Sarhad-dar, 3g, 57, 58, 61,
64, 72, 79, 83, g5, 97, 98,
102, 132, 136, 138, 139, 156,
160, 161, 162, 166, 168, 176,
Sar-i-drokan, 65, 66, 184, 185,
Scinde Horse, 35th, 5, 37
Seistan, 35, 46, 64
Shah Sawar, 58, sg, 60, 80,
81, 82, 123, 124, 125, 126,
127, 128, I2g, 131, 132, 135,
137, 138, 139, MO, 148, 149,
150, 151, 182
Shiah Mahommedans, 17,
Sikhs, 36th, 5, 152
Simla, 37, 47, 50, 2ig
Sinukan, 214, 215, 216
Sunni Mahommedans, 17, 41,
WEBB-WARE route, 32
Yarmahommedzais, 40, 47,
62, 66, 72, 74, 78, 82, go,
113, 130, 148, 156, 160, 164,
165, i6g, 172, i7g, igi, ig6,
igg, 205, 206, 208, 218, 2ig
Yates, Lieutenant, 53
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